Ethel Rodin beat Opsimaths
Ethel just get the better of a low-scoring match to keep their run going
Mike reports from an unusually busy Ladybarn Club
Yet again the Opsis just missed out in a long, close, tense match. 'Hebrew' rather than 'Latin', 'Milei' rather than 'Milau', getting Philomena Cunk's alter ego off the tip of my tongue ... all might have meant a 'famous victory' report rather than a 'just missed out' one.
Don't get me wrong Ethel are hot right now but curiously Greg, James, Roddy and John (so good to see John playing again replacing Geoff, who is still unwell) found the paper not at all to their taste and struggled to build on the 5-point lead they gained in Round 1.
How! to get on: Dineage dynasty
The Opsimath line-up of Nick, Hilary, Brian and myself just kept clinging to Ethel's petticoat until it looked entirely possible that we might overhaul them at the end only to fall short by 2 points. Unlike the rest of the quiz the final pair were dispatched by Greg (Nadine Gordimer's birthland) and me (Slovenia's borders) in a flash with 2 twos, and so no overall impact on the scoreline.
It was just about 11pm when Ivor, the guest QM-setter, fired the final volley and brought the lengthy evening to a close. As ever Ivor was an excellent QM adding the sort of flourishes to the answers that could only have been acquired from the detailed research needed to dig out the question content. As Nick sagely observed at one point when Ivor had to admit he wasn't sure who one of the answers was, "too obscure to have his own Wikipedia page then!". History Man David was on hand to provide moral support whenever Ivor felt under fire - and when all else failed Ivor threatened the teams with an encounter with Anne who "was waiting in the car park".
Well done Ethel! As they used to say when United kept winning those titles back in another century, it's not the big crushing victories that make for champions but the low, close and dirty scrapes where you just cling on to a lead.
A pair of Nellies
James rejoices in a Hebrew bonus
Neck and neck for most of the match, Ethel suddenly went 5 points ahead after R7, then 6 as we conferred Q1 of R8. From thereon we tried hard to talk ourselves out of scoring any more points - until gratefully picking up the ‘Hebrew’ point that Opsimaths had turned their back on. Finally Greg secured victory with a 2-pointer (one of only 3 for him last night, and one of only 10 in the whole match).
Our previous match with the Opsimaths this season had been something of a runaway victory, whereas this was a rather more tense affair. Any setting team who specify a target number of points at the beginning, put themselves forward for scrutiny, or indeed, as was the case in our match, some jovial ridicule.
Competing with an unusually rowdy post-funereal clientele at the Ladybarn Club it did need someone with a big voice - and Ivor had kindly stepped in as QM, well supported by David (who kept averting his gaze as we rewarded his efforts with a series of ‘nul points’.). Two pretty strong teams struggled with this paper - but we did note at the end of the evening as Mike dished up the scores from around the grounds that others managed to break the 40 point barrier.
Penrhyn Gwyr at sunset
Albert beat Charabancs
Albert move up to second place with a game in hand on their closest rivals
Needless to say not a good night for us and, although we have sadly come to see losses as our norm, this was a particularly bad one. We were never in a position to take the lead at any point. Albert outscored us in every department (e.g. 8 twos to our 5) - but it was their massive number of steals (10 against just 4 for us).
Then there was the distraction of Jeremy's flaming red trousers that really sealed our fate (they reminded me of a pair of a similar colour I once wore to college many years ago - and got endlessly mocked).
Although we normally look forward to, and do reasonably well on, Historymen questions this was definitely not one of those occasions. Not an enjoyable experience for us at all I'm afraid albeit the Albert were their usual charming and convivial company acting the role of smiling assassins to perfection. Even QM Mike added a sinister grimace or two.
Better late than never