Pass the Baton

By | May 23, 2020

Here’s something really interesting we were alerted to by gordygeorge88 on Twitter, a full episode of University Challenge‘s Pass the Baton game from the mid-80s, a curio and no mistake. I hadn’t seen this since I was about five or six. In these dying days of the show’s run, games were split across two episodes – the first played by traditional rules, the second by these ones.

So many missed questions – the advantage of the team based quiz is it only requires one of eight people to know the answer as opposed to one in two, and whatsmore many of the questions will be asked outside the expertise of at least one of the contestants. It seems unusual for someone to be able to start halfway through a lap and end the round after just one question. Also, for the effort involved in filling the baton, the team bonus question seems a bit undervalued. Also the highest loser’s scoreboard is “highest average” but seems to just be across the two shows, so what’s the point in that then? And why is one of them a .6?

In the meantime here’s a fun Wikiquiz on gameshow themes open competitively until Monday. 46/50 is your score to beat, although I’m kicking myself on at least one of the ones I missed.

8 thoughts on “Pass the Baton

  1. David

    39/50- not bad for an American on a UK themes test I’d think…

  2. Chris M. Dickson

    Ben Justice overtakes Nick with 47/50; incredible scenes!

    I mostly like the way that I recognise virtually all the top dozen or so from the Bar, and then there’s more or less a gap to people who (with exceptions) broadly aren’t obviously in the fandom.

  3. Barry

    The explanation is St Catherine’s played a third game (the Friday final) giving them a total of 515 (and average of 171.6). Newcastle and Dundee only played two games meaning that St Cath’s is punished for having the cheek to actually defeat an opponent.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Oh this is interesting thanks, alao suggests Pass the Baton was much higher scoring than suggested.

      1. David B

        …And high scoring is usually a bad thing, as it means more variance and less chance to have close matches. Very few of those 2-day matches had teams finishing within 100 points of each other. One 1987 heat finished 110 plays 930 – what a nailbiter!

        Interestingly, the 1987 final was “best of 3 shows” so I don’t know how they scheduled that. Surely you’d look in TV times for Wednesday and see it wasn’t on that day?

        1. Des Elmes

          Weren’t *all* the finals in the Bamber Era the best of three shows (with only two recorded if the same team won both)?

          I gather that there are some people who are still confused by the current quarter-final format, ten years on from its introduction (no disrespect intended whatsoever, but I’ve never found it confusing at all – win twice before you lose twice, that’s all it is). Well, even they can’t disagree that Pass the Baton was far, *far* more complicated – as, for that matter, was the whole tournament structure for ’86 and ’87.

          In any case, it’s a great addition to YouTube – and a *very* welcome change from new episodes being uploaded almost as soon as they have been broadcast on BBC2.

  4. Matt Clemson

    I’m in one of those doldrums where I don’t *really* want to hit ‘submit’ because I know there are two or three more answers within my grasp. Gah!

  5. David

    I think the bonus questions should have been 10 points per right answer and not 5 (so a perfect bonus would mean 75 total points for the full baton plus bonuses)- and some sort of a board showing possible categories would have helped.

    But frankly when they went 5 shows a week, I would have set it up like this, with no PTB games…

    Monday and Tuesday- 4 teams play each other
    Wednesday- M/T winners play each other, winner goes directly to quarter-finals, loser plays on Friday
    Thursday- M/T losers play each other, winner plays on Friday, loser is out
    Friday-W/T play each other, winner goes into a 2nd chance week for 2 remaining QF spots

    2nd chance week:
    6 Friday winners ranked by points scored in their Friday game
    Monday- #3 vs #6- winner goes to Thursday game, loser out
    Tuesday-#4 vs #5- winner goes to Thursday game, loser out
    Wednesday-#1 vs #2 – winner goes to quarter-finals, loser goes to Friday game
    Thursday- M/T winners, winner goes to Friday game, loser out
    Friday- Thu. winner/ Wed. loser- winner gets last quarter-final spot

    Quarter-finals and later as normal

    It would be a little fairer (normal weeks you go 2-0 you’re in the QF- 2-1 gets you a 2nd chance and a high score in a losing efforts makes it easier in the 2nd chance rd)- it would add 4 shows though, and some teams could have to play up to 3 extra games to get to the QF..


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