Tuesday, 20 February 2018

University Challenge Quarter Final Stages - Edinburgh v. Emmanuel


Edinburgh v. Emmanuel, Cambridge 

Yes, dearly beloved, it’s half term, and so what better way to start a Tuesday than a UC review? Another two teams made their first attempt to win a quarter match. First up were Edinburgh, represented by John Heaton-Armstrong, Stanley Wang, Philippa Stone and their captain, Innis Carson. Their opposition, Emmanuel Cambridge, represented by Ed Derby, Kitty Chevallier, James Fraser and their captain Alex Mistlin are not, to my mind, one of the most fancied teams, but useful dark horses who can cause any side problems at this stage of the competition. 

A very good early buzz from Kitty Chevallier linked an edible tuber and a city with the name Jerusalem. Their first set of bonuses, on alliteration brilliantly brought a bonus bonanza. Stanley Wang opened Edinburgh’s account, being the first to recognise a question relating to Richard Feynman. Huge statues and their Geographical coordinates were an interesting although highly gettable set which gave Edinburgh their own full house.Neither team knew that a particular style of art belonged to Buddhism for the next starter. John Heaton-Armstrong came in too early for a term for a particular variety of language with pidgin, losing 5 and allowing Kitty Chevallier to tap in patois to the open goal. Psychology brought me two and Emmanuel one bonus. Now, the next starter gave us a definition of the word ‘methinks’, which was taken by the Edinburgh starter. A good shout, and it looked even better when this led to a full house on a set of islands named after explorers. The picture starter showed a photo still from a film which people of my vintage probably had no difficulty recognising, “My Beautiful Laundrette”. Of course, no one in either team is even remotely close to my age, and so both missed out. Philippa Stone did a lot of the hard work on the next starter, yet ended up losing 5 for Edinburgh. She recognised a description of the fist ever kidney machine and buzzed early with the answer – dialysis. So close but no cigar, for the rest of the question actually asked for the organ whose function it replicated. Bad luck, and it allowed James Fraser to tap in for the points. This brought up the picture bonuses, more stills from films representative of ‘the new queer cinema movement’. Emmanuel only managed the one, which meant that they led 50 – 40 at the 10 minute mark. 

A lovely UC special asked for 2 of the three city names that appear in the names of properties in the London standard version of Monopoly. A rush of blood to the head saw John Heaton-Armstrong chance his arm with Kent, allowing Kitty Chevallier in with Coventry and Leicester. A bonus on Alphas in Science followed. Now, for the next starter, I’m sure John Heaton-Armstrong knew that the list JP had started all featured in works by Pushkin, but the name escaped him, and he knew he was wrong with Shostakovitch. Given then that the writer concerned was killed in a duel Kitty Chevallier was there to provide the correct answer. Pushkin also wrote a verse about my 5x great Uncle, George Dawe. Not very interesting, but true. The Seven Churches of Asia only brought the one bonus. None of us recognised the work of Saint-Saens for the music starter. I guessed that the Oyo Empire and the Aro Confederacy would have been in Nigeria, neither of the teams could. It had been several minutes since and Edinburgh correct buzz, but this was supplied by Innes Carson who was in quickly with the word fulcrum. This brought the dubious benefit of the music bonuses. No points were taken, but at least Edinburgh had found something of their range. I do like periodic table questions, and when I supplied VAN as the first three letters of the element between titanium and chromium just before James Fraser I decided to get while the going was good, and set off on my lap of honour. The playwright Laura Wade didn’t do much for them, and this meant that, as we approached the 20 minute mark, Emma had a lead of 100 -45. They’d had by far the better of the buzzer in this middle period of the contest. However it seemed to me that they weren’t making the most of the bonuses, and because of this, Edinburgh were closer than they might have been.

Edinburgh knocked ten points off the lead with skipper Innes Carson knowing that teleost relates to fish. Chaim Weiszman surprisingly gave me a full house – too knackered for another lap of honour, I’m afraid. Edinburgh managed just the one. Still, Edinburgh were moving forward, with the skipper taking a second consecutive starter with French sociologist Durkheim. Again, they only managed one bonus, this time on human prehistory. Surprisingly neither team recognised a picture of Jonathan Swift for the second picture starter. Both James Fraser and I knew that it was two years before Edward I was crowned – I’ve heard of long holidays, but that one takes the biscuit. This won the picture bonuses where Emma could only identify one of a set of pictures of writers of speculative fiction about Mars. Now, if you’re asking about alloys with different amounts of carbon, even I know that iron is going to be a good shout. So did Innes Carson.  Again, though, Edinburgh themselves could only take a single bonus on a set on jolly German funster Angela Merkel. The contest at this stage saw only a full house separating both teams, but neither team had been close to one of those for ages. Philippa Stone seemed disbelieving that her answer of Cuthbert as the sainted Bishop of Lindisfarne was correct for the next starter, but it was. When I was a kid I loved dinosaurs, and can stull remember the meanings of some of their names. So I took an easy full house on the set of bonuses on dinosaurs of the late Jurassic. So, amazingly, did Edinburgh. Thus, after everything which had already happened, both teams were level on points. Captain Alex Mistlin chanced his arm with an early buzz on the Olympic football champions, but the gamble lost five points. This was compounded when Stanley Wang supplied the correct answer of Brazil. There was only time for two bonuses, neither of which Edinburgh could take. On the gong, the final score was Edinburgh 125 to Emmanuel’s 110. 

Congratulations to Edinburgh for resilience. That crucial full house might have just pushed their bonus conversion rate towards respectability. As for Emmanuel, well, I doubt that their own conversion rate makes pleasant reading, for make no mistake, this was where they lost the match. Without wishing to be too horrible, on this form you wouldn’t fancy either team making the semis, but there’s still a long way to go in these quarter stages. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

The great man started by sniffily apologising to Emmanuel for the set on alliteration being so easy – and you sensed that this was only half in jest. 

A fine splutter came when, asked for one of the 7 churches of Asia which shared its name with a large city in North America, Emmanuel replied Toronto. JP’s eyebrows headed for the ceiling, and the indignant reply, “The church of Toronto!” gave us all a good idea what he thought of this answer. Later on Jez seemed rather peeved that both teams missed the Jonathan Swift picture, and when Emmanuel won the right to the bonuses he harked back to “Jonathan Swift, who was the GEEZER you failed to identify.” Jez, don’t try to get down with the kids, mate. It’s just embarrassing. He went on to reply to the Emmanuel suggestion that HG Wells’ photo was really Franz Kafka, “ It doesn’t look a BIT like Kafka.” Harsh – but actually quite right. 

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

Jonathan Swift speculated that Mars had two moons in Gulliver’s Travels

Saturday, 17 February 2018

University Challenge - Quarter Final Match - St. John's Cambridge v. Ulster


St. John’s, Cambridge v. Ulster

Last week we saw what I believe to be the best Oxford team this season, Merton, over come a good Fitzwilliam side. This week we saw what many people – this writer included – believe to be the strongest of the Cambridge teams, St’ John’s. The team, consisting of John-Clark Levin, Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell, and their captain James Devine-Stoneman have made very smooth progress up to this point in the competition. Their opponents were the doughty battlers of Ulster, Cathal McDaid, Kate Ritchie, Matthew Milliken and their own skipper, Ian Jack. They had to fight their way through the repechage, but have shown good resilience and spirit already in the competition.

Now, the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia had the surname Lee, as in Robert ., which gave first blood to John-Clark Levin of St. John’s. Literary figures who were also MPs were a nice set, and they brought us both a full house. However 5 points of this was lost by an incorrect interruption for the next starter. Neither team could dredge up the term horizon from the definitions given. I could, but decided to gamble on there being another lap of honour question for me later. Both teams sat on the buzzer a bit for the next starter. Even after the clinching clue – opera inspired by two lovers in celtic legend – it was a good second or so before Rosie McKeown buzzed in with Tristan and Isolde. Museums and Art Galleries brought 2 more correct answers for St. John’s, and meant that I had answered the first 9 questions on the bounce. I didn’t get into double figures – the Kennelly Heavyside layer did for me next. Did for both teams as well. The answer was E. No, me neither. The next starter took a moment or two to get going, but when the novel Coningsby came into it, both I and Rosie McKeown knew it was Disraeli. Apparently he wrote it during one of Gladstone’s shorter speeches. Experiments at CERN did none of us any good for the bonus set. The picture starter showed us a map of Africa with a body of water highlighted. John-Clark Levin buzzed in just after I said The Gulf of Guinea with the same correct answer. More alliterative Geographical features brought a couple, but they missed out on Cape Cod. I know nowt about marginal utility, but John-Clark Levin took a double with it. Bonuses on Academy awards for best foreign language films brought a further ten points. This meant that just past the ten minute mark St. John’s led with 95 to 0, and Ulster had been completely shut out to this point. 

Now, the next question on sub atomic particles saw me answer neutrinos, and as I set off on the lap of honour the St. John’s skipper gave the same answer, That was over a hundred unanswered points now. Annie Kenney, the political activist, was a new one on me, but St. John’s took one. JP must have been thinking about offering the doom -laden words of encouragement – plenty of time to get going Ulster – but refrained long enough to allow John-Clark Levin to take what I think was already a fourth starter with the term Life Force. The Primordial Soup Theory – they used to serve that in my old school – provided more bonuses for the St. John’s express. Still no encouragement from Jeremy for Ulster. Rosie McKeown took a punt on Kalisz being in Poland, and was rewarded with another starter to her name. Poetry brought two more correct answers. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the last time we got as far as the music round with one of the teams not managing a shot on target, but this is where we were. Was it me, or was there genuine surprise in Roger Tilling’s voice as he announced ‘Ulster Milliken’ as Matthew Milliken correctly identified the work of Cole Porter. Phew. More songs performed by Ella Fitzgerald yielded another five points. Still, thus encouraged Kate Ritchie buzzed early to identify Banting as one Scientist who’d won the 1923 Nobel for the discovery of insulin. I knew that, but I was not going to take another lap of honour in the same show, thank you very much. The Biblical Book of Judges built on this good work and saw Ulster score a full house. Again, Kate Ritchie was in very early with the word timbre for the next starter. Volcanoes didn’t bring anything to the table. Now, Cathal McDaid knew that if you hear ‘author’ and ‘Prague’ in the same question, you’ll be right a hell of a lot more often than you’ll be wrong if you answer Kafka. Organic chemistry offered chances – even I knew that carbolic acid is phenol. Ulster took that and had a full house – and so did I! Yes, ladies and gents, this meant that I had to set off on another lap of honour. Exhausted, I sank back to the sofa to see that Ulster were now 75 points behind, with 75 to St. John’s 150 at the 20 minute mark.

It got even better for Ulster as Cathal McDaid took their 4th consecutive starter, identifying a still from Twin Peaks for the second picture starter. Three other examples of feature film directors working on the small screen provided 5 points and took them to 90. Now, I’m sorry, but you just can’t sit back on a question which says ‘spacecraft’ and ‘Yuri Gagarin’. That’s a gimme, and their should have been a buzzer race. Sadly for Ulster Kate Ritchie took a complete guess with ‘soyuz’ , while Matt Hazell was if anything even further away with Mir. Sorry guys, but first man in space – Vostok 1, and you should know it. James Devine-Stoneman decided that Ulster had seen quite enough of the ball now, and answered correctly that the Southernmost point of the Indian peninsula is in Tamil Nadu. The Danish author Karen Blixen brought a further five points. Kate Ritchie practically leapt out of her chair in her haste to identify formaldehyde for the next starter. This brought Ulster to triple figures, which had looked unlikely at one point. Cities of the UK brought them to within 55 points of the leaders, but so little time remained. What slim chance remained for Ulster was stamped out by the St. John’s’ skipper, as he provided the term Lemma for the next starter. John Pym bonuses saw the Cambridge side stretch their lead again. Still, Matthew Milliken won the buzzer race to identify “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. Italian composers offered me but little, but allowed Ulster to add a further 5 points to their score. That was it. At the gong, St. John’s had won by 185 to 130. 

A curious contest that. For the first half, St. John’s looked like world beaters, but then what happened afterwards suggested that they had been shooting at an open goal. John-Clark Levin and Rosie McKeown completely buzzed Ulster out of the game during the first 15 minutes or more. Yet when Ulster finally started to throw caution to the wind they at least matched them, and actually had the better of the second half. Well played, though, St. John’s, and as for Ulster, if they play their next match the way that they played the second part of this one, then they’re still not out of it by any means.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I was keeping an eye open in this one, for Jez has made a habit of directing jibes towards Ulster in their previous contests. Maybe this was just due to their difficulty in finding buzzer range, but he was remarkably subdued, not even telling them that there was plenty of time to come back, and just smiling when cheers greeted their first starter, which he simply acknowledged with ‘Okay, you’re off the mark.” Jez was enjoying this contest, openly chuckling when Ulster considered both Alaska and Hawaii for one of the volcano bonuses, and zagged when they should have zigged, causing Matthew Milliken to splutter. 

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

Right – now by no means did I already know everything in this week’s show, nothing like. However I can’t say that any specific fact jumped out at me this week. Sorry.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Mastermind 2018 - Semi Final Three


Well, you know how this works by now. We’ll start by casting an eye over the form guide.

Michael Taylor
U2
14
1
14
4
28
5
Ian Jack
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
13
0
10
4
23
4
Neil Wright
Emperor Tiberius
10
3
16
1
26
1
Maggz Bennett
Duran Duran
12
0
12
1
24
1
Tim Footman
The Beach Boys
12
1
17
0
29
1

As we’ve so often seen in the past, form from the heats is not always a very useful guide to how contenders may perform in the semi final. Still, for what it’s worth there looked to be two very heavy hitters in GK in the shapes of Tim Footman and our own Neil Wright. Neil was runner up in his heat having put in a good but not outstanding specialist round. Also looking worth a punt was University Challenge winner Michael Taylor.

It was Michael who kicked us off. Now, to date there is but one double Mastermind/UC champion, our own Stephen Fellows. Michael looked as if he was intent on changing this state of affairs in the way that he attacked his round on the films of Paul Thomas Anderson. I’ve only seen one of the films mentioned, so take everything I say in that light, but judging from what I heard Michael was asked for some pretty esoteric details, and he was headed for a perfect round until the very last question. Still, a score of 11 in the semi was at least as impressive as his 14 in the heat. He was going to definitely have a say in the outcome of this semi.

Of all this week’s contenders, Ian Jack had delivered the weakest performance in GK in the heats – although 10 is by no means a weak performance, having said that. Still, it suggested that if he was going to challenge he was going to need an outstanding GK score on his round on The Novels of Virginia Woolf. Now, with the exception of ‘Orlando’, me and the Woolfmeister  (Woolfmeistress?)just don’t get on. She is not one of my favourite writers, so I take my hat off to anyone who could study her work in enough detail to post a score of 10. This was if anything slightly better than Ian’s performance in the heat, but I felt he needed to be ahead of the pack rather than snapping at the leader’s heels.

So to Neil Wright, this week’s repechage semi finalist. When I saw Neil was taking Wines of Burgundy I did worry for him a little. I’ll tell you why. Back in my heat in the 2007 SOBM, the runner up, Tim, was taking wines of Germany. Now, my thought was that this was an exceptionally wide subject, since there’s just so much that falls under the subject banner that ‘wines’ is one of those subjects which should come with a Government health warning. I fancy that this may have been what caused Neil to post a rather modest 6 on this round. Now, don’t get me wrong – my own 2 sitting at home was a hell of a lot more modest than that, but in terms of the contest, essentially it put him out of the running. 

Maggz Bennett had won a lower scoring heat answering on Duran Duran. Well, if anyone thought she was just making up the numbers here they were abused of that notion in the way that she posted a fine 12 on the band Motley Crue. It wasn’t a perfect round, but answering quickly meant that she just squeezed in a correct answer quickly enough to allow John to start the last question just as the blue line of death completed its circuit. 

Finally Tim Footman. He was answering on the Life and Works of Kazuo Ishiguro. I wonder if it was the production team who insisted on the whole Life and Works, rather than just the novels, which would be, in my opinion, a valid subject in their own right? Whatever the case, it added a whole other level of complexity to what was a difficult enough subject anyway. Tim, like Neil previously, posted 6, a modest score in the context of this semi final, and was, to all intents and purposes, out of the contest. 

Coming back for GK, both Neil and Tim demonstrated something of what might have been. Neil, I noticed, took the first half dozen or so questions on the bounce, and they were by no means all at all easy. The rest of the round was punctuated by a few wrong answers, but he never completely lost his momentum, and posted 12 to take his score to 18. Sadly, with the best will in the world that was not going to be enough to win. Tim really needed a round of the same quality as that which he’d produced in the heat, where he’d scored a wonderful 17. Well, he too scored 12, which is a fine score in a semi, although not to my mind quite as good as his score in the heats. This meant he led, for the time being, having no passes, but again, it was highly unlikely to last. 

Ian’s round was rather more faltering than the two we’d already seen. However, he had a 4 point head start. He needed it too, since it was only on the last question, where his disbelieving reply of Dr. Johnson brought him the 9th point he needed to edge him across the line just ahead of Tim and Neil.

Michael had already shown his GK mettle in the heats. Remember, in the heats, anything in the teens is a useful score on GK, and Michael had scored 14 off 2 and a half minutes. A similar performance should bring him the 10 he needed. Well, he actually did a bit better than that. He too managed to accrue 12 points, and this put him out in front with 23, 4 points ahead of second, with only 1 contender to go. 

Maggz had scored 12 off 2 and a half minutes in the heats. To win this semi outright she needed to match that score, but do it in only 2 minutes. This looked to be a tall order, which got taller as the first minute progressed. Well before the blue line of death brought the proceedings to a close it was clear that she was only really playing for second spot on the podium. This, to be fair, she managed, with a round of 8, to finish with 20.

Well played Michael – best of luck in the finals. Stephen, if you’re reading, are you ready to make a bit of room up there for Michael on your pedestal? 

The Details

Michael Taylor
The films of Paul Thomas Anderson
11
0
12
0
23
0
Ian Jack
The Novels of Virginia Woolf
10
1
9
1
19
2
Neil Wright
The Wines of Burgundy
6
1
12
3
18
4
Maggz Bennett
Motley Crue
12
0
8
0
20
0
Tim Footman
The Life and Works of Kazuo Ishiguro
6
0
12
0
18
0

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Quarter Final Stages - Fitzwilliam, Cambridge v. Merton, Oxford


Fitzwilliam, Cambridge v. Merton, Oxford


An interesting one on paper, this one. Fitzwilliam, consisting of Theo Tindall, Theo Howe, Jack Maloney and skipper Hugh Oxlade had never looked like losing either of their previous matches. However, they had faced and overcome decent opposition in both. Merton, in the shape of Edward Thomas, Alex Peplow, Akira Wiberg and skipper Leonie Woodland, had looked very much the team to beat, especially in the way that they overcame a distinctly useful Oxford Brookes team in round two. For me, Merton were the favourites going into the show, but the Clark tip has ruined many a team’s chances in the past. 

Alex Peplow did exactly what I would have done for the first starter. Asked for a female writer of detective fiction he came straight in with Agatha Christie and lost 5. Given that she wrote “Death Comes To Pemberly” it was easy for Hugh Oxlade to supply the correct answer of PD James. 19th century history gave all of us a full house. Both teams sat back on their buzzers a bit. Given the words “Marco Polo” and “Emperor” that ought to be enough to give you Kubla/Kublai Khan. When Coleridge’s poem was brought into it, Theo Tindall supplied the correct answer. Mathematics in poetry really did not offer any of us a great deal, but Fitzwilliam still took a full house. They led by 55 points. It was too early to be thinking in terms of a possible upset, nonetheless this was a great start for the Cambridge team.A lovely UC starter gave us the world records for three men’s athletics events, and asked us to add up the distances of the events in question. 200+400+1500 made 2100, as Jack Maloney quickly worked out. Bonuses on Georges Cuvier only supplied one bonus for both of us. Asked for any three of the US States that are both contiguous with each other and have names of 7 letters or fewer, Akira Wiberg tried Utah, Nevada and Wyoming, and put Merton’s account into the black. Charles Dickens, and opening words of his novels, supplied them with 2 correct answers. For the picture starter we saw a definition of an everyday french word taken from a French dictionary. All the teams had to do was supply the word, in French. My schoolboy French was good enough to give me the word biere, shortly afterwards supplied by Leonie Woodland. The word, that is, and not the beer. More of the same followed, and we both took a full house. Akira Wiberg buzzed early to supply the acronym OECD for the next starter – a good shout, that. The Absurd Cycle of Albert Camus brought us all another full house. So having just passed the 10 minute mark, both teams had made fruitful visits to the table, and were tied at 65 apiece. 

The star buzzer of Merton’s second round match, Alex Peplow, showed his form really for the first time in this match, buzzing in very early to confirm that it was Holst’s Planets which has one section titled with the same name as the French month of March. Biochemistry only brought a couple, but it put Merton into the lead. Jack Maloney hit back for Fitzwilliam, knowing the star Canopus (and not, as I’ve heard it called – Canopenus). The Book of Genesis provided the basis for a great UC special set. For each question, teams had to work out the number of years between specific events in History, and then work out which figure of the Old Testament lived that long. That’s fertile ground for question setters. The usual ones asked are Methuselah – 969 – Noah – 950 – Adam – 930 but there are others in the 900s. In this case the answers were Abraham at 175 – then Methuselah and Noah. Fitzwilliam only took Methuselah. Akira Wiberg, who was on great form in this contest, came in very early, needing just Robin Williams and Robert De Niro to give the film title Awakenings. Bonuses followed on the Art Historian Fiona Spalding. Now the first bonus was controversial. Asked for the institution of which she’d written a history, captain Leonie Woodland offered “Tate Britain”. Now, the original Tate Gallery IS now called Tate Britain. JP refused, since he wanted The Tate. I don’t know – I’ve seen answers which were wider of the mark than that awarded the points before now, especially since the question specified the institution on Millbank, which IS Tate Britain now. They answered the other two correctly, and at least were given the points for those. So to the music starter, and it was Alex Peplow who recognised one of the songs from the musical Matilda. Songs from three more musicals rewarded for their lyrics gave Merton 2 more correct answers. I didn’t recognise Sunday in the Park with George either.  Fra Lippo Lippi gave me Robert Browning for the next one. Whether it was that name or another that gave it to him, Alex Peplow, who had found his range by now, took it. Granite only brought a further 5 points. The excellent Akira Wiberg provided the name of Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight. Greek mythology, all answers starting with At – provided a full house , and the Merton Juggernaut really seemed to be moving into top gear. Who else but Akira Wiberg would buzz in for the next starter, which required the Nervous system as the answer. 2 bonuses on the Adriatic meant that in a few minutes Merton had opened up a triple figure lead over Fitzwilliam. Alex Peplow took another starter by knowing that Costa Rica had abolished its army. One bonus on Chinese History  meant that by just after the 20 minute mark, Merton led by 200 – 80.

The second picture starter saw Akira Wiberg identify composer Clara Schumann. Other women on the Edexcel A Level music syllabus provided us both with just the one correct answer with Bjork. Now, I’ll be honest, if I’m asked for a North American economist of the 20th century I always answer Milton Friedman, so I can’t blame Edward Thomas for that, even though it lost him 5. Fitzwilliam couldn’t supply the name JK Galbraith. The next starter saw me in very quickly as I recognised the final words of Iago from Othello. Alex Peplow was almost as quick. The River Severn provided a bonus. At last Fitzwilliam managed to beat Merton to the buzzer, as Jack Maloney was very quick to identify the Filipino language Tagalog. Bonuses on chemical elements since antiquity saw Fitwilliam take the ten points they needed to reach triple figures. Dairyman Crick gave me the next starter, him being a character in Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Monday to Saturday, Dairyman Dick, On Sundays Mr. Richard Crick)which Alex Peplow took. Indian Prime Ministers and their home states brought just the one bonus, but by this stage it was academic anyway. A great buzz from Jack Maloney saw him correctly answer that 6,7 and 8 are the 3 consecutive numbers between 1 and 10 which share an initial letter with a King of England since 1066. The Elizabethan Navy provided one bonus.Now, I’d been a long time waiting for a lap of honour question in this show, but when asked for a greek letter denoting a receptor blocked by some or other chemicals – beta blockers (thanks, Bill Werbeniuk) came into my head, and I set off at twice my normal speed in order to make sure that I was sitting back down by the gong. The living room isn’t at all large, but I am VERY slow.) That man Akira Wiberg bagged another with that one. Bonuses on Africa gave Merton a full house, and just an outside chance of hitting 300. That faded when it was Theo Tindall who correctly guessed that Asbjornson and Moe collected the folk tales of Norway. That was it though, as we were gonged before the bonuses. The final score was 270 to 125.  

Let’s start with Fitzwilliam. They are a good team, and they still showed that tonight. What they seemed to lack, though, was an absolute demon on the buzzer. Merton have not one but two of those. I believe that Akira Wiberg was best in this match, but Alex Peplow wouldn’t have been far behind either. This double buzzing whammy makes Merton very hard to beat. I’m not going to ruin their chances by putting the Clark 50p on them to win the series. . . yet. . . but I can’t see me putting it anywhere else while Merton are still involved.  

Jeremy Paxman Watch 

Just really the controversial Tate Britain ruling, and I’m guessing that was voices in his ear which told him to rule it like that. He did say some nice things to Fitzwilliam about them still showing some pretty impressive displays of knowledge too.

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

Canopus is actually named after the pilot of King Menelaus in Greek Mythology.

AND

The Escorial is often cited as being the largest granite building in the world.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Mastermind 2018 Semi Final 2


Shall we start with the form guide? Here’s how last night’s contenders did in their heats: - 

Adam Gilchrist
The Battle of Agincourt
12
0
11
2
23
2
Cliff Houghton
Everton FC
12
0
14
0
26
0
Chris Cummins
Paul Simon
13
0
13
4
26
4
Madeline Grant
The Harry Potter Novels
15
0
10
0
25
0
Alfred Williams
The Life and Times of Alfred the Great
15
0
16
3
31
3

Now, being honest you have to say that one name stands out. Step forward Alfred Williams. If that GK performance was not a flash in the pan, and I had no reason to suspect it was, then Alfred was going to go very well indeed. The only former semi finalist was Chris Cummins, who’d done well in his previous campaign, but had left himelf too much to do on GK in his previous semi.

So Adam Gilchrist kicked us off with the sitcom Frasier. Very well he did it, too. Last time out he scored a useful 12 off 120 seconds on Agincourt. So realistically, his 10 on Frasier was an improvement. Ironic that this should be show the week that British born John Mahoney, who played Marty, Frasier’s dad, passed away. I watched the show from time to time, but only managed the three easiest questions. Not a great start if I was going to improve on last week’s aggregate SS total.

Cliff Houghton was this week’s repechage semi finalist. He was a contender in that remarkable 9th first round heat where the winner David Love, Cliff and Teresa De Billot all qualified for the semis. He too had scored 12 on his specialist subject – Everton FC. Switching codes to Rugby League, he too improved in real terms, scoring 10 on Warrington Rugby League Football Club. Just the one for me, and prospects were looking bad.

By now, Chris Cummins isn’t just an old Mastermind hand, he’s experience in other broadcast quizzes as well, most notably being part of a team which reached the finals of Only Connect a few years ago. Like Adam, Chris offered us a sitcom that I watched from time to time, but didn’t know anything like enough about – namely Absolutely Fabulous. There was a sense of inevitability in the way that he too claimed a score of 10. Three for me took me to 7 overall.

Madeline Grant participated previously in Marianne’s 2015 series, where she was just a point or two short of a repechage semi slot. In her heat she was allowed to use one of those subjects I don’t think we’ll see again for a while – The Harry Potter Novels where she scored an excellent 15. She did very well again last night with the novels of Jane Austen. Madeline’s round demonstrated the way that if you really snap the answers quickly back at John H, then he sometimes speeds up his delivery. I noticed that in a couple of rounds last night. Madeline’s 11put her into the lead, and my 5 put me into respectable territory.

Finally Alfred Williams, my pre-match favourite. He was answering on Eric Satie, which meant it was a case of Dave C – nul points. Alfred too fired back the answers at machine gun speed and was rewarded by a quick delivery of the questions. He finished with 10, but being only one point behind Madeline, the Clark 50p looked to be backing the right runner. Without wishing to sound horrible, I felt in my heart of hearts that even despite the fact that only 1 point separated the 5 contenders, it would be a two horse race, between Chris and Alfred.

Adam returned first to the chair, and I’m afraid that his GK round was a bit of a struggle for him. He never go the run of questions he needed to build up any momentum, and when John told him he’d scored a total of 18 overall, his face told the story. He knew it wasn’t going to be enough. Cliff Houghton pushed the target into the 20s. A double figure round on GK in 2 minutes is a good round, but you have to say that with the big hitters still to come, his score of 10 for 20 never looked like it was going to be enough. 

This was emphasised as Chris took the first minute of his own GK round and pretty much ripped it to shreds. He was well ahead of the clock, and was always going to take the lead. However the second minute of his round was not as good as the first. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, 13 off 2 minutes is a very good score, but at one stage I thought he was heading for 15 or more. Yes, the remaining two contenders would have to pass throught the corridor of doubt, but the corridor was not quite as long as it might have been.

Like Chris, Alfred ripped the first minute of his GK round to shreds. He continued to do so through the second minute as well. It wasn’t a perfect GK round, but then how often do you see that? That didn’t matter. It was a great GK round, and 15 off 2 minutes is top drawer quizzing. Alfred finished with 25, and the mountain that Madeline had to climb had assumed Everest proportions.

I’m not just saying this. Normally I manage to score a similar amount on all the GK rounds in a given show, allowing for the speed of the contender’s answers and the number of questions asked. I have to say though that I rather struggled with Madeline’s round. I’m not saying it was necessarily harder than others, just that it was harder for me. So I have some sympathy with Madeline. By the minute mark she was out of contention for the win, and it was just a question of how close to the top she could get. In the end she finished with 18.

Well played all, and many congratulations to Alfred – a very serious contender for the title, I would say. 

The Details

Adam Gilchrist
Frasier
10
1
8
3
18
4
Cliff Houghton
Warrington RLFC 1895 - present
10
0
10
1
20
1
Chris Cummins
Absolutely Fabulous
10
1
13
3
23
3
Madeline Grant
Life and Works of Jane Austen
11
1
7
2
18
3
Alfred Williams
The Life and Music of Eric Satie
10
0
15
1
25
1