Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Catch up : University Challenge Heat 8 - Robinson Cambridge v. Wadham Oxford


Heat 8

Robinson, Cambridge, v. Wadham, Oxford

Robinson’s first team member, David Verghese, has an interesting claim to fame. IIRC he is the reigning (that is, the latest to date) Junior Mastermind champion. We both won our titles in 2007, and so I felt drawn to Robinson for this reason, and burdened them with my support. The rest of the team were Catherine Hodge, Geoff Barton and captain James Pinder. Wadham for their part were Vivian Holmes, Edward Lucas, Thomas Veness and captain Vivek Ramakrishna.

The first starter was a buzzer race. Velvet Underground – album cover – and designed by – were enough to send fingers racing, and it was won by Geoff Barton, who supplied the correct answer of Andy Warhol. Two bonuses on word coinages were answered correctly. David Verghese lost five when suggesting Hernan de Soto was the first European to cross the Amazon. Rather surprisingly Wadham chanced their collective arm with the Missouri rather than the more likely Mississippi which was the correct answer. I’ve never heard of Alphonse Neveran, but ask me which insect born disease he was concerned with and I’ll guess malaria every day of the week. Vivek Ramakrishna didn’t look like he was guessing, but he gave the same answer and we were both correct. The Lunar Society brought up our friend from the previous show, Priestley, whom they had for a bonus, although surprisingly they missed out on Josiah Wedgewood. Clues to the words Quince, Flute, Snug, Snout and Bottom led Thomas Veness correctly to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ON their plant bonuses they had two, but I was surprised to see them miss out on rhizome, which is something of a recurring UC chestnut. In 1540 it turns out a chap called Howard was the first to use blank verse in England. I guessed but didn’t know. David Verghese had it to kickstart Robinson. Their two bonuses on 1908 put them just 5 points behind Wadham. The picture starter showed a map of the USA with the locations of 12 federal reserve banks. I didn’t know the one highlighted and neither did Robinson. Vivian Holmes recognised Atlanta, though. Bonuses on the same theme took them to 55 to Robinson’s 35 at the 10 minute mark.

Catherine Hodge knew that if you have a sculpture in Prague commemorating a literary figure, then chances are that It will be Franz Kafka. This earned a set on astronomy. Both of us had dark matter right for the second, but neither of the other two. The next starter on a substance in the cell walls of plants saw Geoff Barton in very quickly with the correct answer – boron. The bonuses were on African flags with suns in them. Now, I do like my flag questions, and was happy to take the full house available. Robinsons managed just the one, but they had their noses in front now. Geoff Barton came in far too quickly for the next starter, but Wadham couldn’t capitalise. I’m not surprise that people might not know the century in which Abbess Hild of Whitby lived in, but I am surprised that nobody knew the century in which the Prophet Muhammad lived. Vivek Ramakrishna came in too early for the next, which really needed you to wait until you realised that it was about the European Space Agency’s launch site, in which case it became obvious that the answer wanted was Guiana. Robinson couldn’t take advantage. Vivek Ramakrishna made amends, knowing that if it’s hairy or nine banded it’s an armadillo. Or a yeti with a Remington. Western novels set in Japan brought one bonus, which was enough to put Wadham back into the lead in what was turning out to be an absorbing contest. Holst’s Mars was enough to give skipper James Pinder the music starter, and two bonuses were enough to see them re-establish a 15 point lead. Nobody reckoned chapter titles from Dombey and Son, nor could they relate firkin to a Dutch term for 4th. For the next starter David Verghese was in too early and lost five, but Wadham failed to identify King Edward Vi from the clues given. So after this low scoring interlude the score at the 20 minute mark stood at 75 – 65 to Robinson.

David Verghese knew that the short lived political union of Egypt and Syria was the UAR (United Arab Republic). Ten points on oils were taken. The next starter saw Vivek Ramakrishna identify Santa Fe as the cities with the name that means Holy Faith. They could have used a full house on bonuses, but technology billionaires only brought a single. The second picture starter showed us Vivien Leigh playing Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, and the first in for that one was Catherine Hodge. Gillian Anderson provided them with their only bonus. Nobody knew the ratio between the mass of the Earth and that of the Moon. Fair play to David Verghese, he knew that Ezra Pound and some others are buried in Venice – not a place you’d just pick out of thin air for that question. Unesco World Heritage sites in Southern Europe didn’t provide any points. The lead stood at 40, with a couple of minutes to go. Normally you’d call that just about do-able, but neither side had been scoring that quickly in this particular match. Thomas Veness gave Wadham hope, knowing GH stands for growth hormone. Two bonuses on muscles put them within a full house of the lead. Effectively the whole game seemed to rest on the next starter – and neither team was yet at a certain of a repechage place score. Geoff Barton sealed the deal for Robinson, knowing the residence of the PM of Canada. Rubbing salt in the Wadham wounds they scored a full house too. Nobody recognised a list of characters in Jonson’s plays – Doll Common did it for me (but that’s my problem, boom boom.) Vivek Ramakrishna threw caution to the wind buzzing way too early on the nest starter, and when we learned that what was required was the metal often alloyed with copper in coinage, James Pinder applied a little gloss to his team’s score by giving the answer nickel. That was it, giving Robinson a win by 155 to 95. That sounds more emphatic than it really was – with 2 minutes to go either team could have won. Well played both.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Nothing to see here. Get on with your lives, citizens.

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

The earliest recorded use of the word twitter comes from Geoffrey Chaucer. He must have been gutted that it would be 600 years before anyone could read any of his tweets.

University Challenge: Heat 7: Balliol, Oxford v. Imperial College

Heat 7

Balliol, Oxford, v. Imperial College

This is going to upset people, but out of 8 heats so far including this week’s we’ve only had two which didn’t feature at least one college of either Oxford or Cambridge. It would just break the season up a little if we had a heat which didn’t feature either. Mind you, having said that I haven’t seen a Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish institution yet. I do hope that they’re not planning on putting let’s say a Welsh against a Scottish or Northern Irish institution in the first round. OH well, on with the show. Balliol were represented by Captain James Hook, Lord Peter Wimsey – oh, I’m sorry, JP’s still waffling on about the college. Balliol  were really represented by Freddy Potts, Jacob Lloyd, Ben Pope and their captain Joey Goldman. Imperial College (who were part of University of London when I was, but aren’t now) were represented by Rupert Belsham, Lottie Whittingham, Nas Andriopoulos and their skipper, Jasper Menkus.

I didn’t know Umberto Eco died this year – but Rupert Belsham did and took the first starter. A set of bonuses on German Chancellors were all gettable, but they didn’t get any of them, and this suggested some gaps in their knowledge on the arts side of things. A terrific early buzz from Jacob Lloyd saw him identify Longitude as the subject of an act of Parliament in the early 18th century promising a prize. Internet encyclopaedias saw both of us only manage to answer about Memory Alpha – Star Trek. You can tell that neither team are regular pub quizzers. If they were the moment that they heard the name Elsa Schiapparelli they would have known shocking pink. Been asked loads of times down our way, don’t you know. Freddy Potts was in too early for the next, and left it to Lottie Whittingham to identify cholera. The french writer Christine de Pisan is a new one on me, I’m sorry, but I guessed the last one. Imperial didn’t. The picture starter was a UC special – highlighting countries on the map and asking you to combine the two letter IS codes of each to form the capital city of another. Amazingly I did it and got Brussels, the right answer. Neither team did, and so the bonuses rode over to the next starter. The moment that the words presenter – and – undiluted joy for railways were said it was most likely going to be Michael Portillo, but it was a while before Jasper Menkus buzzed in with it. The picture bonuses proved a lot harder for me than for Imperial, they had two and I only had the one. This meant that Imperia had the better of the first ten minutes, leading 40 – 10 in what had been a nervy encounter so far.

None of us knew autolysis, which is fair enough since it sounds ghastly. Ben Pope knew that the first city attacked by the Israelites was Jericho. On the astronomy bonuses Jay Goldman was a little unlucky to give Halley Bopp instead of Hale Bopp. It would have been a full house too, since they had the other two. Never mind. Rupert Belsham buzzed too early for the next starter. He knew that Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal”, but he needed Taylor from the rest of the question to give him Taylor Swift. Ben Pope didn’t make the same mistake. Bonuses that followed were on Cultural studies in Britain. I guessed multiculturalism, but that was it, as it was for Balliol. Jasper Menkus won what should have been a buzzer race to give rhinoceros as the species of large mammal, threatened, and limited to Africa and Asia. They couldn’t do anything with bonuses on recent novels. On the music starters on UC, if the work is announced as being by a German composer, if it isn’t obviously Wagner it’s always worth going for Beethoven. Joeyy Goldman threw it onto the table as a guess, but it worked. I didn’t know that he was once a pupil of Salieri, but he was. So were the others on the bonuses. That didn’t help either of us that much. Next starter asked us whose uncle Pelias usurped his father’s throne. That should have been enough, but Ben Pope contrived to give away five points with Achilles, and even the mention of Medea didn’t help Imperial. A halfway decent grounding in Greek mythology is not an essential for a quizzer, but it don’t half help. Freddy Potts supplied the term gubernatorial for the next starter, and bonuses on the Sciences brought them another 10 points. Freddy Potts knew that it was Freddy Engels who moved to Manchester to work in the family business in the 1840s. Troubled painters gave them a good full house, and at the 20 minute mark they were ahead as the score stood at 100 – 40. In all honesty neither team was exactly going at full speed, but I couldn’t see Imperial coming back now.

A well known still from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was identified by Ben Pope. More robot stills brought a couple of correct answers. I don’t know the film Ex Machina – must have been asleep when that one came out. Joey Goldman had a good interruption to identify that it was a sjull which featured in various paintings. A set on Britain and Japan, which were much easier than they originally sounded gave us both a full house. Let’s be honest, though, Balliol had found their range now, and were just starting to steamroller through. Another correct interruption from Ben Pope gave the term phylum , and earned a pat on the shoulder from his skipper. Lives of contemporaries of Winston Churchill brought another ten points, and the Balliol juggernaut steamed on. Jay Goldman knew that Martin Amis wrote “Time’s Arrow”, and almost inevitably they picked up another ten points for the bonuses. It didn’t matter – they were way ahead, and to all intents and purposes it seemed as if the stuffing had been knocked out of Imperial. Or perhaps not since Nas Andriopoulos knew about something called a coordination number. Philosophy in the early 20th century did not sound like exactly fertile ground, but my standard guess of Bertrand Russell at least brought both of us one correct answer. Jacob Lloyd knew the Research Excellence Framework to push Balliol towards the double century. A full house on oases pushed them to 205. The old chestnut, dephlogisticated air, gave Jaoe Goldman Joseph Priestley, and to be honest, the sooner the gong sounded the better for Imperial. Science terms beginning with V brought them 10 again. Come on gong. Ben Pope lost 5 points on the next starter, and that was it. Balliol finished what turned out to be, in the last ten minutes, an easy win, 220 – 55. Rather surprisingly JP did try to commiserate with Imperial, calling them unlucky. As for Balliol – well it’s a decent score, but how good they were is difficult to tell. That we’ll get a better idea of from the next round.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Nothing to see here. Get on with your lives, citizens.

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


Ganfyd is an internet encyclopaedia set up specifically for those working in or training in Medicine. It stands for Get A Note From Your Doctor. 

University Challenge - Heat 6: Emmanuel Cambridge v. Nottingham


Heat 6  Emmanuel, Cambridge v. Nottingham

I really must apologise. Bobby Seagull, the inspirational captain of Emma, wrote to me first weeks ago, enquiring after my health, and expressing his partiality for LAM, hoping that I might actually get round to reviewing the show. Thankfully he didn’t give away any clues as to the outcome. Well, Bobby, I hope that you’ll think that it’s a case of better late than never.

So obviously Bobby is the captain of Emmanuel, and his teammates were Tom Hill, Leah Ward and Bruno Barton-Singer. Their opposition, Nottingham, were represented by Joseph Meethan, Wester Van Urk, Isaac Cowan and their captain, Hugh Smith. Obviously they would be helped by the fact that Emmanuel were burdened by the support of the Clark sofa – but how much of a dragchain would this place on Emma’s ambitions?

Bruno Barton-Singer took a hell of a gamble on the first question. All he had to go on was ‘What flavour of quark . . . “ Now without any further information that could be up- down – stranhe or charm – and that’s just the ones that I know off the top of my head. That resulted in a loss of 5, and allowed Wester Van Urk to give the right answer when the question became a little clearer. Questions on Euro coins gave them two correct answers. Bobby Seagull went early to identify the Dickens novel whose eponymous hero is at times called Trotwood, amongst other things. This allowed Joseph Meethan a bonus with David Copperfield, and earned bonuses on rocketry pioneer Werner von Braun. With the next starter Bobby’s early buzz was right on target as he recognised a quote from Einstein. Fictional works set in Shanghai provided us both with 2 correct answers, and Emmanuel were away. Years ago I lost a quiz through not knowing latin names of well known birds, so when Fratercula Arctica reared its distinctive head I knew that when I guessed puffin from member of the auk family, I was right. Joseph Meethan was first to chance his arm, correctly as it happened. Fratercula from the latin for brother, because they look like little hooded monks, apparently. Aquarium fish I didn’t fancy much, and they did no good for Nottingham either. On to the picture starter. We saw a map with a capital city marked. I was pleased to identify Nigeria thus Abuja just before Joseph Meethan, having a very good game at this stage. More purpose built capital cities followed, and I thought they did really well to take a full house. At 75 – 10 by the ten minute mark, Nottingham were looking like a very useful outfit, and it looked as if Emmanuel were going to have their work cut out even scoring enough to secure a repechage place.

Joseph Meethan buzzed too early on a question which took a swerve after losing five points for Nottingham. Bobby Seagull buzzed in with the correct answer, US Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia to earn bonuses on the novels of Jane Austen, and characters called Mary. I had 2, and Emmanuel managed Mary Bennett from “Pride and Pred”. Bruno Barton-Singer knew that any question with the words – average distance from the Earth to – needs you to buzz immediately and say “Astronomical Unit”. He did and earned 10 points for what was looking like a rejuvenated Emmanuel team. Biochemical separation techniques did nowt for me, although I could work out chromatography from the Greek for coloured writing. Emmanuel took two. Bruno Barton Singer made it a double by knowing that Iris Murdoch wrote The Sea, The Sea. A UC special set on scientists, performers and writers – eg Compton and Mackenzie river give you Compton Mackenzie - . No prizes for not knowing the river Orwell to get George of that ilk, but still ten points added to the score. By this stage Joseph Meethan had regained his composure and was back in for an early starter on the word Thug. Philosophy in the 1620s sounded unappetising, but I took 2 of them, and Nottingham the one. Both teams seemed transfixed with the music starter, and it was quite a while before Hugh Smith gave the correct answer of the well-known Marriage of Figaro. 3 more duets brought nothing for them. Bobby knew that the start of the construction of the Chrysler Building began right at the dog end of the 1920s. I dare say that they might have done a little better with the Italian history bonuses. Garibaldi was a stone banker to come up, but Mazzini and Cavour were gettable as well. Nobody knew the Forsyte Saga, and again, that was gettable. Now, when asked for the first 4 letters of the British defeat of 1777 I guessed SARA from Saratoga, and then Sarawak confirmed it. Leah Ward was first in for it, and a full set from the names of families in George R R Martin’s epic oeuvre gave them the lead for the first time in the competition just after the 20 minute mark. At 105 – 95 Emmanuel were the team with forward momentum. Would it see them across the line?

Well, Hugh Smith was the first to buzz in to identify a phot of Christopher Lee for the second picture starter. Needing films and characters for the next three Nottingham took 2, which gave them back the lead. The revival continued for Nottingham as Wester van Urk identified Marie Curie’s notebooks as being extremely radioactive. European football stadia gave them 5 points more, but really they might have done better with them than they did. Tom Hill took his first starter knowing that Niobium is named after the daughter of the mythological figure that Tantalum is named after. Latex gave me a point for knowing that Opium comes from the papaver somniferum. Emmanuel still lagged behind to the tune of 15 points. Seemingly encouraged now, Tom Hill knew that the Lyke Wake Walk is in the North Yorkshire Moors national park. Words in English and other languages – Chat – Kind etc. brought them a full set and the lead. Time was getting on and it was anyone’s game. Probably the key moment was when Isaac Cowan incorrectly interrupted. He gave rust, while Bruno Barton-Singer gave us the smut we wanted. The novels of Ian McKewan brought them 10 points, which meant that Nottingham would need to return to the table twice to beat them. I doubted there was enough time for that, but as it was Tom Hill took the next starter. British Prime Ministers put them 50 points ahead, and the game was over to all intents and purposes. Isaac Cowan made a late bid by identifying solids with octagonal faces, for there was only time to try a couple of bonuses on dentistry. At the end the score was 175 to 135 in Emmanuel’s favour.

I would be surprised if that’s enough to bring Nottingham back – shame. Emmanuel’s 175 was therefore scored against one of the better losing teams in this first round – we have to take notice of that, and also of the strong way that they came back. Well played.

 Jeremy Paxman Watch

It isn’t like JP to play silly beggars with culture, but he did make a point of saying that the Flower Duet from Lakme was actually the British Airways advert. Not for well over a decade I don’t think, Jez.

He’s shown more inclination to join in with jokey answers in this series has JP. When Bobby plucked the name Silvio for the first PM of united Italy, he offered “As in Berlusconi (dramatic pause) no he’s not that old.”

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

Werner Von Braun was the subject of a film titled “I Aim at the Stars.” Mort Sahl suggested that it should be subtitled “ – but I often hit London.” Now that’s funny.

University Challenge: Heat 5 : Oriel Oxford v. Manchester


Heat 5  : Oriel, Oxford v. Manchester


Oriel were represented by Owen Monaghan, Alex Siantonas, Tobias Thornes and skipper Nathan Helms. Their opponents, Manchester are one of those teams you never want to draw in the first round, as they have a hell of a pedigree within the revived series. They were Aaron Morrison-Griffiths, Jane Scanlon, Owen Michael and captain Joseph Bath.

Both teams sat on their buzzers a little bit after the starter became a bit obvious, but Owen Michael was first in with the South Sea Company. Women born in the 1870s brought them close to a full house, but they plumped for Mary rather than Nancy Astor. Hard lines. Owen Michael missed out on the next by giving us the book rather than the end of the quote from Charlie and the Chocolate factory. Oriel couldn’t capitalise. Tobias Thorne knew that Lipperschey probably invented the telescope , and a full set on Goths and the like brought them the lead. Again, a member of Manchester, skipper Joseph Bath, identified the right novel, The Prisoner of Zenda, but not the answer to the question, which was Ruritania. Again, Oriel failed to capitalise. Poor Owen Michael, the next question looked for all the world like it was asking for ‘the renaissance’ until it took a swerve just as he was buzzing. He must have heard what was required, but couldn’t stop himself from giving his original answer. This time Owen Monaghan capitalised with quattrocento. Bonuses on medicine provided another 5 points. For the picture starter we saw an equation, which expressed a law of physics, and Joseph Bath correctly pegged it as one of Newton’s. Fair enough. My mind went and put the kettle on as Manchester managed to identify 1 more equation. A very early buzz from Alex Siantonas saw him identify the term falsification. Declarations of love in 19th century literature brought two answers for both of us. So at slightly after the 10 minute mark Oriel led by 60 to 25. Which is funny considering Manchester looked sharper on the buzzer, but they were nowhere near as cool under fire.

Sadly for Manchester it happened again in the next starter. OBE led Owen Michael to dive in with Order of the British Empire, while waiting for the whole question was enough to give Owen Monaghan Out of Body Experience – well, not literally, but you know what I mean. The mid 80s miners’ strike brought these young whippersnappers only the one correct answer. Joseph Bath waited until the opportune moment before buzzing with the correct answer of silicon for the next starter. Biochemistry saw them flog the Krebs cycle for the answer to each question, and they were rewarded with the last bonus. Nobody knew Bo Diddley for the music starter. Alex Siantonas knew that the latin for wise is Sapiens, thus earning the music bonuses on other tracks using the same beat, or variations thereon. Sadly they didn’t recognise The Cure – what are things coming to? Nor the Clash, and they went for the full Wham! rather than George Michael.Skipper Halems recognised a description from the obituary of Monet. Currencies gave them 10 points which put them into triple figures. Jane Scanlon knew that the oridinal number you’d associate with Napoleon III is second – as in Empire. Operas that premiered at La Fenice ddn’t deliver much, although skipper Joseph Bath was given a little bit of leeway saying Turning rather than Turn of the Screw. He’d been given the right answer by Jane Scanlon, which is why JP allowed them the points. This meant that at the halfway stage Oriel led by 100 to 50.

Owen Michael showed he had learned the benefit of waiting, as Nathan Helms misspelled Mr. Knievel’s given name as Evil. Chemical elements provided us both with a full house on higher numbered elements. I paused the playback to allow time for a lap of honour of the living room, you’ll be pleased to hear. Thanks Sporcle. I recognised a Whistler painting of one of the Thames Bridges, as did Alex Siantonas for the second picture starter. More works secured for British galleries by the Art Fund brought them 10 more points. Nathan Helms knew that the Battle of Kursk was in 1943, and this brought them bonuses on 14th century History. Skipper Joseph Bath held his head in his hands. The time to secure a repechage place score at least was running out. The gap after they added one bonus was now up to 60 points. Poor Owen Michael buzzed without a ready answer to the question name two of the other three countries apart from Iraq that have a q in their shortened English spelling. Owen Monaghan was once again on hand to pick up the pieces, supplying Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique. Japanese cinema only brought 5 more points, but the game was over as near as dammit, and it didn’t matter. Aaron Morrison-Griffith correctly identified Rio de Janeiro for the next starter. The Chateau of St. Germain brought 10 points, and put them one answer away from triple figures. Sadly, that was it, and a win for Oriel by 150 to 95.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

We saw JP unleash both barrels when Alex Siantonas suggested, somewhat tongue in cheek one feels, that the American blues singer was in fact Cole Porter – or “Cole PORter?!” as JP spluttered. I think he realised he was being had, though, when he smiled and hailed it as an amusing guess.

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

Telescopes were once nicknamed Dutch Trunks.

Catching Up: University Challenge Heat 4: Queens' Cambridge v. Peterhouse Cambridge


Heat 4  Queens’ Cambridge v. Peterhouse Cambridge

Queens’ Cambridge were represented by Sam Booth, Lorenzo Venturini, Daniel Adamson and captain Frank Syret. A special shout out for Sam Booth, since he’s from Greenford – I’m originally an Ealing boy myself. Peterhouse were represented by Ephraim Levinson, Oliver Sweetenham,  Xiao Lin and their skipper Natasha Voake.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t recognise that the title of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” was from Isaiah, but Xiao Lin knew and scored first blood for Peterhouse. Two bonuses on fictional detectives followed, but the Literature students on the team will know that they missed a trick not knowing sergeant Cuff from The Moonstone. I’ll be honest, like Daniel Adamson I thought the question was finished for the next starter when JP paused on a 4 letter ending for Scottish placenames. He lost five for – burn, but like many a UC question it only became obvious when the coda – it denotes a place of worship made it clearly into – kirk. Peterhouse couldn’t capitalise, but captain Natasha Voakes did recognise a definition of the word syndrome. The Mighty Five Russian Composers offered a gentle full house, and Peterhouse were making good ground with each visit to the table. He chemical term free radical brought the Queens’ skipper his team’s first points. African countries provided them with their own full house. Game on. Now, if you’re told the question is about classical music and greek mythology, have a pop with Orpheus is my advice. Ephraim Levinson did, and took a very good early interruption. Some Maths stuff would normally do nowt for me, but I guessed Wittgenstein, and earned one correct answer, just like Peterhouse. For the picture starter neither team guessed that the river shoe drainage system was highlighted on the map was the Eleb. Pleased myself by getting that one. Oliver Sweetenham took his first starter, knowing that it was Elizabeth Barrett Browning who was thought of as a rival to Tennyson to become Poet Laureate. This earned the picture bonuses, which gave Peterhouse another rcorrect answer, and a lead of 70 to 20 at the 10 minute mark. Peterhouse at this early stage were showing by far the better work on the buzzer.

A great interruption from Sam Booth on the US Patriot Act signalled the start of the fightback. Mont Ventoux has seen many a doughty competitor come a cropper in the past, but Queens still managed a further 10 points. Oliver Sweetenham I thought was close to the next answer with the term ‘safety blanket’, but lost five, and Daniel Adamson offered ‘comfort blanket’. Both sounded good to me, but apparently the answer was transitional object. Daniel Adamson knew that Sousa was the composer of marches who only had one consonant in his name – s. A selection of Gore Vidal’s acid drops about his fellow writers were very entertaining, but difficult, and none of us scored on them. Ephraim Levinson recognised a couple of definitions of the word mead, and Peterhouse embarked on a set of internet firsts. The only one we both got was spam. Story of my life. The music starter brought a real buzzer race, as the ever familiar strains of The Barber of Seville were correctly identified by Ephraim Levinson, giving him a pair of consecutive starters. 3 more pieces from the programme of the first Proms concert brought them one correct answer. Oliver Sweetenham denied Ephraim Levinson the hattrick by correctly identifying the Basilikon Doron as the work of James I and VI. A full house followed on Women’s football. Peterhouse were on a roll, but Oliver Sweetenham with a rush of blood to the head interrupted with vole when the answer required, as supplied by Daniel Adamson was shrew. A costly mistake since the questions on inventors and engineers supplied another 10 points, resulting in 25 points being knocked off the lead of 75. He atoned for it though, knowing a list of characters from the play Endgame. Only having one scientist on the team counted against them though, since they failed to score a bonus on microbiology. Even so, with a lead of 130 to 70 they looked comfortable favourites at the 20 minute mark.

Ephraim Levinson continued a good evening’s work knowing that the city in which the French army were to be ‘hammered to death’ in 1916 was Verdun. Once again, no bonuses were taken, this time on Australian test cricket. For the second picture Ephraim Levinson identified a photo of Mary Ann ‘George Eliot’ Evans and her unfortunate nose. 3 more ‘pen name’ authors two of which were dispatched to the boundaries, the other of which was a very near miss with Voltaire. So Queens’ needed to throw caution to the winds, and did so with a skipper’s correct interruption on the word modulation. A full house on the number 13 and History saw them cut the deficit to 65. With only 4 minutes to go, though, they needed a lot of unanswered points. Skipper Frank Syret again came up trumps knowing that the Tropic of Cancer passes through the Greenwich Meridan in Algeria. Something I didn’t understand in the least about Chemistry provided enough to cut the gap to 50 points – still 2 full houses. Daniel Adamson provided hope, recognising the work The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Agatha Christie used several quotes from Shakespeare as titles, and they recognised one of them for a bonus. Lorenzo Venturini took a punt with the middle ear for the next starter, and his correct answer boosted the Queens’ score to 135. Kings of France didn’t help at all. Daniel Venturini knew that several words could all follow the word butter. 145 – if they took a full house we’d probably be looking at a tie break. They took the first, but sadly that was it – the gong finished the contest amd Queen’s finished 10 points behind on 150.

A very good contest – hopefully we’ll see both of these teams again.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP does reckon himself when it comes to English Literature. When Oliver sweetenham answered the Elizabeth Barrett Browning question correctly he sniffily replied, ‘of course’. No of course about that one actually, Jez old boy.

When the Eiger was suggested in the Tour de France question JP’s eyebrows shot skywards and he half spluttered, half laughed. He did more when the cricket questions came up. When they were asked for a record breaking batsman and came up with the sensible guess of Ricky Ponting, JP smarmed Peterhouse down with the words ’is he the only Australian you know?’ before following it up with the next question then relying “Surely you know Shane Warne?!” Obviously not, JP. Say it quietly, but the world does not revolve around cricket – and lets be grateful for that.

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

The first ever registered domain name was symbolics.com

Catching Up: Mastermind Heat 7


Episode 7

Jack Bennett, you sly old thing! I had no idea that Jack  - who appeared in last year's UC  ( is this the same Jack Bennett who is proprietor of Jacks Online Writings, THE blog to go for detailed and above all else up to to date reviews of every UC show - I'm really not sure. Jack - over to you) was a contender in this year’s Mastermind. He was answering on The James Bond films, and we both had the first 6 questions on the bounce right, falling at the 7th hurdle. Thence our paths diverged. I took another 4, and frankly I’m always pleased to get to double figures on a specialist, and Jack went on to 13. Well played Jack.

I have read several of Alexander McCall Smith’s enjoyable Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels, but never any of the 44 Scotland Street ones, so I didn’t trouble the scorer on John Millar’s round. 12 was a pretty useful return though, and meant that he was only a point behind Jack at the halfway stage.

With Kester Ford’s round on US Presidents of the 20th century I went one better than I had with Jack’s round, and took the first 7 questions on the bounce without a wrong answer. Kester, though, went on as far as question 9 before getting anything wrong. Funnily enough I had that one – Rolling Thunder – same name as a shortlived skate park in Brentford IIRC. What happened next underlined the importance of momentum. Kester was never the same again in his round, and limped across the line with 10 after some near misses. For me, the 13 I scored was probably my best specialist round of the series so far. I’ll be honest, a decent knowledge of US history in the 20th century and it wasn’t difficult to get a good score.

So, I was on 23 after 3 rounds. 2 more would put me to a quarter century on specialists for this show, and Frances Slack’s specialist, the musicals of the pair my grandmother used to call Rodgers and Hammersmith, gave me a chance of getting them. Actually seven of them put me onto 30, which is a record which is unlikely to be broken in this series. As for Frances, well 12 put her just a point off the lead. She had an interesting tactic to avoid passing – naming Harry Potter relatives – both Vernon and Petunia Dursley got honourable mentions.

Kester Ford’s GK round just underlined what a shame his stumbles at the end of his specialist round were. I dare say that we’ll see better GK rounds – well, we did, before the end of the same show – but even so it was a fighting performance, and underlined what he could do if he got his specialist round right. John Millar’s round wasn’t quite of the same standard. 13 on GK is fine and perfectly respectable, but if you’re starting from 12 it isn’t enough to put everyone else following you into the corridor of doubt.

Frances Slack hadn’t been particularly fast answering in her first round, and she wasn’t especially fast in this one. But crikey, she was accurate. 10 questions on the bounce she answered correctly, and in the end only a couple of questions went begging, as she compiled a massive score of 17. Now, OK, you might say that none of the questions she was asked were all that difficult, including the couple she had wrong, and you’d be right to say so, if a little harsh. But to have the coverage to answer even straightforward questions in such a range of questions correctly is actually very impressive.

John did that unhelpful thing of reminding Jack what a large score he needed to overhaul Frances. Yeah, thanks for that, John. He took the first 7 and was on schedule, but hesitated on ACAS before failing to dredge it up. Sadly two more wrong answers followed, and from that moment Jack was playing for a repechage slot. Such are the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune on Mastermind. Some rather long questions followed, and in the end Jack finished with 25. Sorry, Jack, but if I’m honest I can’t see that making a repechage slot. Very bad luck. As for Frances, well done indeed! A good performance which certainly did not betray an ounce of nerves, if she felt any. Good luck in the semis.

The Details

Jack Bennett
The James Bond Films
13
0
12
0
25
0
John Millar
Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street novels
12
0
13
1
25
1
Kester Ford
20th Century US Presidents
10
0
15
0
25
0
Frances Slack
The Musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein
12
0
17
0
29
0

Catching Up: Mastermind Heat 6


Episode 6

Way back in the mists of time I took part in my first ever Mastermind show, in the 2006 series. Tak about a baptism of fire. The first contender, Kath Drury, scored 17. The second, my mate Neil “Legend” Phillips scored 17. I felt like I was looking down the barrel of a gun. Neil was answering on REM, which was the subject offered by the first contender in this heat, Helen Lippell. I dare say that even allowing for the lower potential scores in the last few series of Mastermind, her 13 wasn’t quite as good as Neil’s. It wasn’t bad, though, and certainly looked likely to give her a chance at the halfway stage.

Richard Gill didn’t quite convince me with his round on the presidency of Harry S. Truman. Oh, don’t get me wrong, in the current series 11 on SS is perfectly respectable, but as a platform for a serious attempt at either a win or a repechage slot it left him with a lot to do.

Now, if you’re going to do a subject where the team allow you to limit the range of your subject, you better be prepared for some pretty obscure questions. Mind you, back in that same show from 2006, I took the Modern Sumer Olympic Games, and I didn’t limit the range, yet I still got asked some pretty obscure stuff, let me tell you. Ironically we both scored 14 – although in the context of the show James Haughton’s 14 today is probably worth about 16 in my day. With a score in the teens on GK he should at least give himself a good chance of a repechage slot, I reckoned.

Daniel Adler is a) a Counterpoint Champion, b) a finalist in Clive’s 2014 series, and c) a good friend of LAM. All of which meant that he was labouring under the twin burdens of being the clear favourite for this heat and support from the Clark sofa. He was answering on Borgen, which is a Scandinavian TV series apparently. Being that my acquaintance with Scandiwegian TV starts and ends with the Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show, you’ll appreciate that this was not a high scoring round for Dave. It was for Daniel, though. 16 is about as good as you can get on a two minute SS in the current show. Suddenly all the others were playing for a repechage slot.

To be fair they gave it a good old lash, too. Richard Gill’s 15 was such a good performance that I felt sorry for him that he hadn’t managed a couple of more points in his specialist. 15 was very good, 26, though, was never going to win this heat, and to be honest there was no guarantee it would even come second. It was good enough to help him leapfrog over Helen Lippell. I feel a little sorry for Helen Lippell. 25 is a quality score, and yet she ended in 4th place. I haven’t checked, but I wouldn’t mind betting that this is the highest 4th place score in the series so far, and may well stay that way.

There’s not a great amount of tactical thinking in Mastermind – whether you think you have a realistic chance of a win, or whether you think your best chance relies on getting a high enough score for a repechage slot, both of them involve scoring as many points as you can and not incurring more passes than you can help. James didn’t look as if he was scoring as well as Richard had, but then he’d scored more in Specialist. In the end he made it into the teens, to post 27. For an old hand like Daniel that won’t have represented a particularly daunting target, but sometimes funny things can happen in a GK round.

They didn’t in this one, though. Daniel missed a couple he might have had if everything had gone absolutely perfectly, but even allowing for that his 15 put him way ahead, and he finished with a total of 31. I dare say that will remain as one of the highest scores we’re going to see in the whole of the first round, and by any standards it was an impressive performance. There’s still a long way to go to another final, but it was certainly an impressive day at the office, Mr. Adler. Very well played.

The Details

Helen Lippell
REM
13
0
12
6
25
6
Richard Gill
The Presidency of Harry S. Truman
11
0
15
2
26
2
James Haughton
History of the World Cup 1982 - date
14
0
13
0
27
0
Daniel Adler
Borgen
16
0
15
0
31
0