Monday, 3 November 2014

Only Connect Post Mortem: Series 10 Episode 10
Wandering Minstrels vs. Chessmen

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

Warning: the following contains spoilers for Series 10, Episode 1 of Only Connect, first broadcast on BBC Two on Monday 3rd November. If you haven't seen it yet go and watch it on iPlayer!

Missed last week's recap of the Politicos vs. the Oxonians? Check it out here!

After a brief hiatus while we took in the sites of New York City, I'm back with a very belated summary of our thoughts on the second elimination match of the series. On paper the Chessmen were looking good: they came third in Series 2 of the show but couldn't quite live up to that pedigree as they were seen of 26-24 by a very good looking team of Linguists. The Minstrels, meanwhile, had a rather tougher time against the Gallifreyans and went down 26-12. One game at a time however, but I don't doubt the Chessmen would be feeling slightly more of the pressure here.

Round 1: What's the connection?

The questions
1) £7-12 per week wages; £2 emergency credit for phone calls; 3-4 visits per month; No votes
2) Roaming in the Gloaming; Singing in the Rain; Blowing in the Wind; You've Lost That Loving Feeling
3) Music: Themes from the Dukes of Hazzard (Waylond Jennings); Sir Duke (Stevie Wonder); Duke of Earl (); The Grand Old Duke of York
4) Salem; Graymalkin; Crookshanks; Gobbolino
5) Pictures: Jay-Jay; Dee Dee Ramone; Yo-Yo Ma; Zsa Zsa Gabor
6) Beelzebub; Mephisto; Inquisitor; Listener

The answers

Our thoughts
1) A rather sharp shift in difficulty from the second clue to the third, and almost impossible to miss for at least a point, the fun in this one is whether you can spot it early. I persuaded a sceptical doctor to take it for 3 points while the Minstrels took it for 2.
2) An Only Connect classic where the answer is staring you in the face but is brilliantly easy to miss. Neither team spotted it (nor did we at home) but I felt Blowing in the Wind should really have given it to me.
3) If you recognized either of the middle 2 clues you'd stand a good chance (perhaps via "noble titles?" and then "dukes?" if pushed). Sir Duke is one of those songs where you think you know it (I certainly do) but then you discover you've no idea what it's actually titled. The Minstrels worked backwards from the final clue, which seemed a deliberate giveaway, but was nevertheless not trivial to do in the time.
4) Those of us of a certain generation (myself included) would have been tempted with a very punty 5 here, as memories of Sabrina the Teenage Witch on CITV came flooding back. Graymalkin then takes us to a rather different end of the fictional spectrum with Macbeth (which was enough for us at home) and Crookshanks meant that all those people who find Harry Potter questions on quizzes irritating got their weekly dose of annoyance. The Chessmen, enormous fans of the boy wizard I'm sure, got 2 points thanks to Hermione's cat (well, half-cat), while the last clue was admittedly a new one on me.
5) A picture round of "do you recognize any of these people?". At home I spotted Yo-Yo Ma (fun fact: I played the cello for a couple of years before switching to the double bass) which was enough for me while the Minstrels took all 4 for the point. (The doctor, true to 'people-recognizing form', was convinced the last clue was Joanna Lumley.)
6) The Series 10 '2-clue trap' reared its head again here, with Beezlebub and Mephisto seemingly pointing at devils/demons (and while that perhaps would seem 'too easy' there have been some questions this series along similar lines). The Chessmen weren't falling for it though, and took a solid 3 points to lead 5-4.

Round 2: What comes fourth?

The questions
1) Nimble; Wood-coloured; Vulpes
2) Pictures: Austin 7; Stephanie Powers; An open door with an arrow pointing in
3) Parrott/McCoist; Dettori/McCoist; Dawson/McCoist
4) H; AL; SN
5) Pipes of Peace = 1; Ebony and Ivory = 2; Mull of Kintyre = 3
6) S. her v.; H. and g.; L. to r. over us

The answers

Our thoughts
1) Quite a nice question, which I was mildly annoyed to be beaten to by the doctor (who is normally hopeless at such things). The Minstrels had it at a similar time, recognizing the pangram (using all the letters of the alphabet) but mistakenly thought it was "The quick brown fox jumped". (This is an easy slip-up; but using 'jumped' instead of 'jumps' means you don't have an s.) As it was this minor error wouldn't matter, as they got a bit flustered, took the final clue, then jumped ahead to 'dog' at the end of the line. The Chessmen were able to step in for the easy bonus.
2) While I don't like to be negative, I'm afraid this really was one of the weaker Only Connect questions I've seen (sorry!). There have been a few of these 'picture phrase' questions this series, and I don't think I've been convinced by any of them, but this one in particular with a very optimistic clue to the word 'in' does rather verge on the silly. Your only chance is if you recognize at least one of Austin 7 or Stephanie Powers (and really I think you need both), but even then stumbling to the correct answer seems an exceptionally tall order. Unsurprisingly neither team were even close to this.
3) I was surprised to see the Minstrels take all 3 clues before the connection occurred to them, as I would imagine many viewers would have had the link immediately and it was just a matter of suspecting the order was leading up to the present day (and then remembering who the current captains were). Unusually for a TV question I can say all this with some confidence. As someone who has barely watched A Question of Sport I nevertheless knew the sequence from the first clue and managed half of the final pairing. The Minstrels, alas, couldn't drag up the correct names and the Chessmen picked up another handy bonus.
4) Only Connect has done Trivial Pursuit categories before, but this time they apparently decided to take the opportunity for a bit of chemical symbol misdirection. At home I was feeling very smug by correctly observing that "those can't be chemical symbols, it should be Al and Sn, not AL and SN" which predictably meant I (like the teams) still didn't work out the answer.
5) I quite enjoyed this one, although that's perhaps more due to doing well on the type of question we're usually terrible at. I can't say I recognized Pipes of Peace, but Ebony and Ivory can only mean Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, at which point the significance of the number 2 becomes clear. With a 4 piece group including Paul McCartney very easy to identify (and rather more easily than one with Stevie Wonder), it seemed more than likely this was where the question was going. The Minstrels again were close but no cigar, spotting the link but seeming to miss the McCartney connection, and the Chessmen took their third bonus point of the round.
6) A somewhat weird question to finish, I thought, and an absolute gimme for 2 points. Or not, as the Chessmen managed to miss it. The Minstrels duly hoovered up the bonus, but were still trailing 8-5.

A 3 point lead meant any sort of slip-up from the Chessmen on the wall would open the door for the Minstrels. They duly obliged by missing one connection to score 7 and the Minstrels followed the script with a maximum of 10 to tie the game going into the vowels. This scoreline was perhaps a touch surprising given the earlier rounds, but the Chessmen pulled out a solid performance to take the game 25-21.

Question of the Week

(Originally posted on November 3rd.) The Ones That Got Away is on holiday in NYC this week, and so the Only Connect recap is going to be (very) delayed. We've found time to catch up with the episode in a break between the Museum of Sex and going to a pub quiz, and can announce that our Question of the Week was Restored 'g's! Of course, you can still vote for your favourites with the poll below, and normal service should hopefully resume once we're back in Canada's chilly embrace.


  1. The vote for Austin Powers I think we must assume came from someone who fatally misread the poll question. A search on Twitter for "only connect austin powers" is instructive on the matter.

  2. Only now catching up with this episode but as soon as I saw the "Austin Powers" question, I had to check if anyone else felt it was an absolute pig of a question!