Monday, 29 September 2014

Only Connect Post Mortem: Series 10 Episode 5
Coders vs. Gamesmasters

Scroll down for this week's Question of the Week poll!

Warning: the following contains spoilers for Series 10, Episode 5 of Only Connect, first broadcast on BBC Two on Monday 29th September. If you haven't seen it yet go and watch it on iPlayer!

Missed last week's recap of the QI Elves vs. the Bibliophiles? Check it out here!

There'll be some unashamed bias in this week's coverage as Internet-acquaintances of mine make their debut. The Gamesmasters will be familiar to many thanks to the presence of University Challenge champion (and Roger Tilling nemesis) Filip Drnovšek Zorko but he's accompanied with some fresher facers to the quizzing scene (James Robson and Frederic Heath-Renn). They're up against the Coders (Zoe Cunningham, Richard Bradley and captain David Simons), who apparently used to work with Board Gamer Hywel Carver, so loyalties are split across our team!

Round 1: What's the connection?

The questions
1) Doctor; Neighbour; Friend; Spook
2) 155; 300; 27 up 27 down; 501 in 9
3) Music: Blackjack (by Ray Charles); Patience (by Take That); Under the Bridge (by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers); Poker Face (by Lady Gaga)
4) Pictures: Little Dorrit; Little Voice; Little Mix; Little Britain
5) The Little Yellow God; The Jack of Hearts; Wenlock and Mandeville; Darning needle
6) We all stand together; Brekekekex koax koax; It's not easy bein' green; Ribbit

The answers

Our thoughts
1) A straightforward start which the Coders had after two but took a third to be safe. We were less cautious at home but almost fell for the trap of going too specific with daytime TV shows.
2) This was courtesy of a certain Richard Osman, apparently, and one that could reward the right kind of snooker nerd. The Gamesmasters were thinking sport after 300 but didn't know the technicalities of snooker quite well enough to remember that you can get a 155 break if your opponent fouls and leaves you in a free ball situation before anything is potted. It's effectively unheard of, however, hence why 147 is referred to as the maximum. The Gamesmasters ultimately needed all four for this but still safely got themselves off the mark. (I, being a huge snooker nerd, had it after two and spent the rest of the time trying - and failing - to explain to the doctor how a 155 works.)
3) A tough one to get without all four, I think, as you probably need two of the first three to have a chance at the connection. The Coders managed to spot Under the Bridge and Poker Face to take a well-earned point.
4) Neither team had this one, although the Gamesmasters had an excellent better-than-nothing guess with 'things on a Tube map'. I staggered the doctor by recognizing Little Mix (at least one of their songs is quite nice) and he reverse-engineered Little Dorrit from that because "it looked a bit Victorian". I think the setter is probably expecting a similar strategy; Little Dorrit is in 'good answer on Pointless' range for Dickens novels, so spotting the frontispiece with no clues would take some pretty expert knowledge.
5) The perils of social media were cast in stark relief as Victoria Coren Mitchell Tweeted clues two and three earlier in the day. (Scandal, public inquiry, duck island, etc.) Fortunately it didn't make any difference to me, at least, as the first clue meant nothing (The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God is a J. Milton Hayes poem, apparently). A minor issue with this is that you can argue that both the Jack of Hearts as well as Wenlock and Mandeville (together) have two eyes, not one, although I think most players would probably decide that one eye seems a more fitting link. Wenlock or Mandeville, perhaps?
6) While there are a few options for 'We all stand together', 'brekekekex koax koax' will either mean nothing to you, or (as it did the Gamesmasters) tell you exactly what the answer will be. Some solid Aristophanes knowledge meant they picked up a valuable three points ending the round down 5 points to 4.

Round 2: What comes fourth?

The questions
1) Galaxy; Universe; Everything
2) Best; Caff; Edgh
3) Mount Rushmore; Eve (1957 Joanne Woodward film); A chess clock
4) Pictures: A red bow; The Red Arrows; An asparagus spear
5) 1947: Norman Hartnell; 1981: David and Elizabeth Emanuel; 2005: Robinson Valentine
6) Hampshire; Jersey; Mexico

The answers

Our thoughts
1) Round 2 started off with a fairly standard general knowledge sequence, with the Gamesmasters happy to pick up a bonus after the Coders couldn't spot the Hitchhiker's link. One nice feature of this question is that you might (as happened to me) have the connection triggered by seeing 'Universe' and 'Everything' together (as in Life, the Universe and Everything, y'see).
2) A great question that defeated us at home, but not the Gamesmasters who took a valuable 2 points. The gradual change from a normal word, to something that might be read as a slang cafe, to something that's very obviously not a word, gives this a lovely gradient.
3) This one, meanwhile, was a much more straightforward sequence but with much more of a chance at five points. After seeing Mount Rushmore there's not too much more to say than 'four presidents/faces' and it would be incredibly tempting to take a punt on 'one president/face'. The second clue is a somewhat obscure opportunity to confirm or deny this (unless, of course, you're familiar with the film, which did win Joanne Woodward a Best Acress Oscar) while chess clocks gave the Coders - and us - the certainty we needed for the points.
4) The Gamesmasters couldn't quite place this and the Coders picked up their first bonus of the show. With both the first two clues being obviously 'red something' I felt there was the faintest hint of the 2-clue misdirection we've seen a few times now this series. Nevertheless, by the third it's fairly clear we're looking at weapons, but spotting the final connection was nevertheless tricky.
5) A very tough question which (I think unsurprisingly) was missed by both teams. I was somehow onto the connection after the second clue (apparently the only notable thing I can ever remember about 1981 is the wedding of Charles and Diana) but knew I'd have no chance at the final answer. This is a nice idea for a question, as the years and names provide a couple of ways into it, but there is a question of how well-defined the connection is given how many royal weddings there have been. Victoria mentioned 'future monarchs' but this seems a bit presumptuous.
6) A question that has the potential to be fun, but is just a bit too easy for the potential distraction of Hampshire and Jersey being around the British Isles to work. Making the sequence alphabetical is also a tad weak (increasing population size would seem less arbitrary but would mean Hampshire and Mexico would be the first two clues). A bit of a gift for the Gamesmasters to finish off the round here, I think, and they duly took two points to lead by 9 points to 8 going into the walls.

It was the walls which would seem to prove decisive, with an alarmingly quick solve from the Gamesmasters and a bit of a stumble from the Coders seeing the gap stretch to 19-12. Any hope of a comeback were soon dashed by the almost terrifying performance of the Gamesmasters in missing vowels, however, who took the round 11-1(!) and ran out the winners 30 points to 13. Yowzers.

Question of the Week

For the first time this series my question of the week is an easy decision: Gutted UK capitals takes the plaudits for being deceptively simple (and, if you're the doctor, rack your brains trying to think of footballers called 'Caff' and 'Edgh'). If you'd like a second opinion Series 9's Welsh Learner Stu Hern does his own weekly recaps over on his blog here (although this week we've agreed for once!).

As always though, I'd love to know what you think with the poll below!


  1. A very enjoyable show for me. I got the 'Little_' picture round after two clues - in spite of getting one wrong. I guessed Little Nell, rather than Little Dorrit, and recognized Jane Horrocks as Little Voice. For the picture sequence, as soon as I saw bow, arrows and spear, I got the connection and knew what came next (Mum's been in the WI for decades)
    I knew William Hartnell had designed for the Queen Mother and the Queen, and knew the connection must be wedding dresses after the second clue. I guessed the fourth one must be the designer of Kate's dress, but other than being a woman, I had no idea who it was.

    1. Impressive stuff - I quite liked how on the Little ___ one the team mistakenly thought it was the Little Matchgirl, so now that's at least two other ways of misinterpreting that first clue and still getting the correct answer!

    2. I've just realized I put William Hartnell, instead of Norman Hartnell, in my comment. Same surname, but famous for rather different things....

    3. I think most of us were thinking of him when the name first came up (although maybe he had a side line in dress designing which he kept quiet...).