Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Only Connect Post Mortem: Series 10 Episode 7
Orienteers vs. Romantics

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

Warning: the following contains spoilers for Series 10, Episode 7 of Only Connect, first broadcast on BBC Two on Monday 14th October. If you haven't seen it yet go and watch it on iPlayer!

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

Canadian Thanksgiving is over, and so after a brief(ish) delay I'm back with this week's Only Connect Post Mortem. Gracing our screens this week are the Orienteers (Simon Spiro, Paul Beecher and Sean Blanchflower) and the Linguists (Owen Rees, Phil Nelson and Daniel Tuite). Notable among this motley crew (at least in terms of high brow BBC quiz shows; I'm sure they're all special in their own way) are the Orienteers. Simon and Paul were members of the Season 2 runners-up the Cambridge Quiz Society (thus ensuring, along with the History Boys and the Chessmen, representation in this series from all three teams defeated by the Rugby Boys) while Sean - unless it's a remarkable coincidence - is responsible for the most comprehensive University Challenge archive on the web.

Round 1: What's the connection?

The questions
1) Tests precious metals; Disney distribution label; As You Like It's wise fool; Criterion for judgement
2) Music: Pocketful of Miracles (Frank Sinatra); Brass in Pocket (The Pretenders); Hand in My Pocket (Alanis Morissette); You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two (Oliver!)
3) Peace (war); Love (law and order); Plenty (economic affairs); Truth (news, entertainment and education)
4) Pictures: Rabbi Lionel Blue; Jack Black; Jack Straw; Gabby Logan
5) Messiah; Apocalypse; The Heist; Russian Roulette
6) The Brittas Empire; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Vanilla Sky; Dallas (series nine)

The answers

Our thoughts
1) A tricky one to kick off with, we thought, and for most I imagine it's a case of if you know your Shakespeare you'll have it off that clue alone. The Romantics did, and correctly deduced the Disney label must also be Touchstone, whereas at home even the last clue didn't help.
2) A standard "once you know two you'll get the points" here, but not the easiest set to work with. The Pretenders fall into the 'before my time' bracket for us but while Alanis Morissette is rather more in our wheelhouse it didn't help much. The Orienteers knew both, however, to hit back with two points of their own while at home we were yet to get off the mark.
3) After impressive work on the first two questions from the teams I'll admit I was surprised to see the Romantics take all four to recognize their Nineteen Eighty-Four ministries. While many will dismiss this as too easy (and it's certainly on that side of things) I nevertheless enjoy this as an Only Connect question as it's gettable for five but only if you've got guts. At home we had it on three while for me Plenty seemed such a giveaway it should have been the final clue. Everyone has their blind spots, however, and if anything the Romantics deserve credit for puzzling this out when they didn't (seem to) know it outright.
4) This could be added to the ever-growing list of "clue two traps" we've seen in Series 9 and 10. If you were able to recognize Rabbi Blue, then the somewhat easier Jack Black could easily see you plump for colours. A canny team might have dodged this by supposing it 'too easy' but it falls a little on the 'trap' side for me. The Orienteers went with simply 'Jacks' after three, and the Romantics were unable to scoop up the bonus. At home I was quite pleased to 'buzz in' after three clues with "Jacks whose real name isn't Jack", as I recalled Jack Straw is actually a John, and supposed Jack Black a bit too cool a name to be real (which turned out to be a good punt; he was born Thomas Jacob Black).
5) A nice set if a little tough for those unfamiliar with Derren Brown's antics, which both teams unfortunately seemed to be. That said, I've watched all four of these but the penny only dropped on Russian Roulette (which, if memory serves, was by far the most notable in terms of making actual news).
6) The Orienteers knew enough to take this for two points, albeit with considerably more confidence than we managed at home (the doctor somehow dredged up that Vanilla Sky had some sort of dream thing going on, and then with rather more confidence tied that into Alice). I really like the gradient on this; there's not that much to know about the Brittas Empire (Chris Barrie, leisure centre, dream) while there's rather a lot to know about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, so you could see a very brave gamble for five or a very impressive answer for three. Vanilla Sky provides a more direct route while Dallas would give it away to most. I'll admit some mild disappointment that Crossroads didn't show up, and if you don't know why, take a moment to read how the series concluded. 4-3 to the Orienteers, then, after a well-balanced (and quite impressive) round 1.

Round 2: What comes fourth?

The questions
1) 2011 Düsseldorf, Azerbaijan; 2012 Baku, Sweden; 2013 Malmö, Denmark
2) 1st: Sighting; 2nd: Physical evidence; 3rd: Observation/contact
3) Flag of Mauiritius; Adidas shoes; Corporal
4) Gras; Butter; Thirl
5) Poisoned; Stabbed by Prince Ludwig; Becomes Prince Regent
6) Pictures: Green triangle; Red circle; Blue cross

The answers

Our thoughts
1) An absolute gift of a question to any Eurovision fan, and I can't remember the last time I was so certain of a five pointer at home. The Romantics were onto this themselves but took another clue to be safe. There's the essence of a great question in here, as you can imagine the fun in spotting Azerbaijan followed by its capital Baku, and then Malmö following Sweden, and trying to piece these bits together, but the audience for whom this isn't 'too easy' or 'impossible' seems fairly narrow.
2) I was impressed with the doctor for proposing the connection on the first clue, but even more impressed with the Orienteers for doing so and getting the answer (we gambled on '4th: Meeting', supposing that the other clues wouldn't help us). That said, this is perhaps easier if you're familiar with the 1977 movie, but it had never occurred to me (albeit this seems increasingly foolish in retrospect) that there might be close enounters of other kinds. The relevant Wikipedia page is a predictably fun read. It's perhaps a shame that the Orienteers got this so quickly; it strikes me as another question which lends itself well to being figured out clue-by-clue.
3) Flags are trivia bread-and-butter to a certain kind of quizzer, but the Romantics were unfortunate to be unfamiliar with (the admittedly fairly obscure) Mauritius. They were then led astray by reasoning a corporal must have four rather than two stripes, and by missing the classic Only Connect sequence rule of "if you're not sure which direction it's going in, see which endpoint makes more sense". (Having made the same mistake when we were in the studio, however, I will always make pains to acknowledge that under the lights such thinking is rather harder to pursue.) Consequently they proposed a zebra with five stripes, which deserves marks for creativity, but the Orienteers were able to come in for the bonus. At home I was very tempted to take a punt for five, but doubt set in and I needed the second clue to be sure.
4) Blergh. It's hard for me to comment on the difficulty of this, as the only things I know about the Lake District come from GCSE geography, but this really feels like a case of "easy or impossible". Like the Orienteers we were thinking along "Mardi Gras, so Gras is 'fat'? Oh, and butter, that's also fat, er..." lines, but predictably that didn't stick. (I'm going to give the setter the benefit of the doubt and assume this wasn't deliberate misdirection.) The Romantics, however, were able to sneak in for the bonus point.
5) While undoubtedly specialized this question had a lovely gradient with Prince Ludwig doubtless ringing bells for a few fans, while Prince Regent would have rung them for many more (including the Romantics who picked up the two points). We got far too cocky and punted for 'drowned' on the first clue (thinking of Rasputin's demise) but still missed this after seeing all three clues.
6) Some pretty specialized knowledge was required once again here, with little scope to figure it out if you don't know your gamepads. The Orienteers had the link but couldn't remember the colour while the Romantics couldn't pick up the bonus to trail 10-9. A relative gift for us at home, although despite how many hours the doctor has been putting into Destiny we still needed two clues.

With the scores so close a big swing on the wall could prove crucial, but both teams put in perfect performances to leave just one point in it. Interestingly both walls had a Harry Potter group (the Orienteers got Hogwarts staff, the Romantics owls), which I find mildly unsatisfying from a 'playalong' perspective as it means that topic is fresh in one's mind when viewing the second wall. In this instance it's not really much of an issue, as names such as Flitwick and Pigwidgeon are likely to leap out to even a cursory Harry Potter fan, but we have seen previous shows were slightly less obvious - but related - groups have cropped up in successive walls.

With the scores so close an exciting missing vowels round was on the cards, or at least it was until the Orienteers took a clean sweep of the first group. What followed was an overwhelming display as they took the round 13-2 and the show 33-21. (Of minor interest was the Non-Olympic sports clue of 'PL' which by my reckoning takes both 'Polo' and 'Pool' as valid answers.) While the final scoreline is perhaps a touch unfair on the Romantics, it was a cracking show nevertheless, and this series continues to look remarkably strong.

Question of the Week

This week's Question of the Week debate hinges on your opinion of 'too easy'. While the doctor made a strong case for Playstation symbols in the "Only Connect is great because it asks stuff like this" department, I was resistant and instead opted for Close Encounters. While we weren't given the opportunity to see how this question may have played out to those unfamiliar with the concept, I think there's a lot of potential fun puzzling out to do here that some slightly less knowledgeable teams may have demonstrated. Moreover, it gave me (and hopefully others) a "oh huh, I never thought about that" moment in learning of the other kinds of encounter.

You may well disagree, however, so do let us know your own favourites with the poll below!


  1. Simon Koppel (Felinophiles)15 October 2014 at 02:09

    One question would have been made slightly easier for the teams by the fact that the episode must have been recorded no more than a week after this year's Eurovision Song Contest. Indeed, we watched Eurovision in a hotel room in Cardiff with the Oxonians, trying not to drink too much wine as we both had our second heats the next day.

    1. Ha, excellent info, thanks. I had wondered about the timing of this so it's good to know the specifics.

  2. Tempted to use Crossroads but preferred The Britta's Empire in the end. BTW clue 3 is Thirl.

    1. Ah, thanks for that, fixed. And glad to hear Crossroads was at least in the mix!