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Only Connect

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Rating: 3.9/5 (92 votes)
Comments (36) | Views (10,867)
Only ConnectArtbegottiSo how are you feeling today? Pretty good? Did you wow your boss with the presentation at work today? Manage to fix the broken copy machine with a paper clip and a gum wrapper? Feeling pretty smart? Prepare to have all that blown to smithereens.

Based on the BBC4 quiz show, the online version of Only Connect features ten samples of the show's most devastating puzzle, the Connecting Wall. Only Connect is a show about finding lateral connections between seemingly unrelated things, but here you're given the extra task of making the clusters of connected items.

Each Connecting Wall consists of sixteen items, which can be broken into four groups of four connected items. While there may be many apparent connections, there's only one way to divide the wall into four acceptable groups. Click on four items to see if they match. If they do, they get shuffled to the top of the grid, and you're one step closer to that distant victory. You've got three minutes and an unlimited number of attempts, but once you're down to eight items, you've only got three "lives" to sort out the final connections.

You earn one point for each connection that you successfully find. If you can find all four connections, you can get four extra points by naming the connections within each group, plus an extra two points for a perfect game (for a total of ten points possible).

In case I haven't implied this enough, earning the full ten points is an incredibly difficult task. Not only do you need to have good lateral reasoning skills, but you've also got to have a decent bank of trivia in your head (and a bit of knowledge about Brit couture wouldn't hurt). Nonetheless, the goal of the game is still an entertaining quiz experience, and it's something different from the nightly hour of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! so many of us are used to. If you can't beat a wall on your first go (and subsequently get a bit of scolding from host Victoria Coren), you can always try again. It'll all connect eventually.

Update: Since this article was first published in 2010, the Only Connect game has been updated to include hundreds of Connecting Walls, including grids featured on the show (as a play-along-at-home gimmick) and walls submitted by fans. If you think you've got a clever combination of clues, you can try submitting your own wall as well!

Play Only Connect


This game is SOOOOOOOO hard! but I love it, because it reminds me of the numerous trivia games I play with my relatives.

Also, #4 is definitely the best for a warm up.


That's a really cool game. But it's preposterously hard. Having 3 different levels of difficulty would be a plus.


Way too hard.


Having an american version would be fun


Wow, that's uh... hard.

I got through one in one try, but failed to get all the bonus points (worst part was one I got right but didn't phrase it in a way it recognized). One more I've gotten after several tries.

I love the idea, but I agree, it needs some introductory levels.


This might be easier if you are from England. Some of the references are impossibly hard.

HolyMythos March 5, 2010 7:05 PM

I'm blaming the difficulty of this game on the fact that I live in the States. So, the only reason I could get anything in the first five walls was on number 5 which was the easiest on the list. The most annoying thing about this game is that you'll have three that you're sure are in a group, then try every combination only to find out none of them work.

I enjoy puzzle games, and I enjoy games that make me think, but I abhor games that are initially hard, then throw in a bunch of things I don't know, especially due to my geographical location :(


The quiz is the best on TV. Victoria Coren rocks!


I watch this tv show regularly (in case you hadn't guessed) and feel I ought to point out that this web-based version is based on the programme.

It is after all a BBC tv quiz, shown only in the UK (as far as I know) and clearly the makers weren't intending it to end up in front of a world audience on a site like this - as it definitely is unlikely anyone unfamiliar with British childrens' television in the 70's would get the


reference otherwise (amongst others).

I moan often enough that stuff on this site is too US-centric. Only Connect is clearly too UK centric for the rest of the world... but that's what's great about the quiz for its viewers, and since it is the BBC licence fee paying for it (which I and the rest of the UK tv watching population pay for), I hope the makers don't feel they need to change it to make it more universal, as the obscurity of the connections is what makes getting them so satisfying.

Just my opinion.


Man, this game is brutal for Americans. I'm not going to complain though since so many games are made for us.

And I think your mileage may vary, but I had the best luck with #9. That was the only time I was able to get two groups in one puzzle.

Patreon VIP Chiktionary March 5, 2010 8:56 PM

Definitely #5 was the easiest for me.
The game is very English in terms of content. Found the fact that there are clues that can be placed in multiple categories frustrating, to say the least.
Nice work-out for the grey matter though.


Patreon Donator dsrtrosy March 5, 2010 10:20 PM

I agree with Ben (and others)--too bad there's not an American version. I have no context for most of these! Oh well, cool idea.


It's not bad. I started with number one, and then gave up a minute in. The ones I ended up getting right were the ones people mentioned as being easy here (four and five).

Username March 6, 2010 2:36 AM

For an American version listen to NPR on Sunday mornings, they play a similar game.

As to this one, I'm with everyone else, impossible to play well if you don't live in the UK.

Anonymous March 6, 2010 3:28 AM

xadoc, I just hope you haven't bemoaned any US-centric TV-to-flash games. Your opinion of "it's more satisfying because the rest of the world can't make the connections" could be applied to many games made in the US, with US trivia, for people in the US.

nikikinz March 6, 2010 4:38 AM

Even if you do live in the UK it's far to obscure!! I'm English, living in France and speak several languages but this is just too hard to be fun.


Love it, and I can deal with the UK-centric nature of it, but the things that fit in multiple categories will drive me mad! I've thrice known what at least one of the groups was and run out of time trying to force the 5 or 6 possibles into a group.

Gizensha March 6, 2010 5:16 AM

To those of you struggling with the multiple ones that can fit into one category, since these first ten are all walls from the first series (Some web exclusive ones are supposed to be going up later), be grateful they didn't put the 'pretty much everything on the grid is a tool' one.

(The trick to those is that you leave them until you have enough of the other groups to get it down to 4, or 5-6 in a non-ideal world, rather than trying to combo it)


For instance, I got these three:

London, Tower, and Millenium (all bridges)

but no matches with the others. And frankly, as a yankee I felt pretty good about knowing that much. Similarly,

Velvet, Hermit, and Fiddler (all crabs)

didn't match with any of the others. That one I figure out through brute force.

JoseHeno March 6, 2010 2:46 PM

I think this is a brilliantly challenging game. So far I've solved 3 walls: 1, 4 & 5. I solved 4 first, and got 3 out of the 4 connections for a score of 7. For 5 I got 3 out of the 4 connections for a score of 7. For 1 I got 2 out of the 4 connections for a score of 6.

This is counting guessing and failing over and over again until I got it right, but not counting the subsequent research I did to figure out the connections later. Although when I do the research, I try to discover clues bit by bit, rather than just by googling all four words (which doesn't work all the time anyway).

I think it's funny how I'll often see my own connections between certain things, but not know exactly what they have in mind. This happened all 3 times.

FYI I am American. I have a cursory knowledge of British geography and history, but very little knowledge of the pop culture.


I think some kind of learning curve would have been good. As it was, they just pitched you right in at the deep end.
Yes, it's deeply Brit-centric, but that didn't make it any easier fer me. Hopefully, the promised new rounds will be a little simpler.

Mind you, it's nice to be able to see the answers after the round has finished.


Trust me it's just as difficult for people from the UK too.

The BBC makes quiz shows that are extremely difficult and you have to be very intelligent & cultured to even have a chance of appearing on a show.

Cruzer010 March 6, 2010 6:45 PM

#5 is also a good wall to warm up and start with

Anonymous March 6, 2010 6:55 PM


Even if you systematically try every combination involving a given tile in order, nothing matches, leading me to believe there ARE no matches.

Must be some sort of sadistic psychological experiment.

sgtdroopy March 7, 2010 4:13 AM

I don't like games where the connections are subjective. The reason IQ tests ask you to explain yourself when you make associations is because there are very logical ways to get from place to place that a machine might not be able to make.


JIGuest, maybe I don't understand what you were trying to say, but trying combinations where you leave ONE tile constant when trying to find a group of four will not necessarily lead to a match.

That said, add me to the list of baffled Americans! Very fun, but some of the references are beyond me.

lgmb0t1 March 7, 2010 6:16 PM

I like this! Yes, harder than average and contains references that aren't well-known internationally, but as a Canadian who's grown up watching U.S.-centric quiz shows, I don't think it should be _offending_ anyone. (And I actually like the wordplay of how words appear to belong to multiple categories.)

Dragonscale March 7, 2010 7:53 PM

I really enjoyed these puzzles! I'm American and have almost no knowledge of British pop culture, so those references were a little challenging - but usually, there were at most one category out of the four that were British-related, so the others were manageable.

The type of thinking required in this reminds me of Set and crossword puzzles, two of my favorite games. I'll by checking in every Monday for more of these.

Pixelated March 7, 2010 10:45 PM

Wow, insanely hard. Only got Wall #4, and there was a lot of guessing in that one even.
On Wall #3, I got

Fairy, Madeleine and Pound (all cakes)

but couldn't get any more matches. Hmm.

Acidifiers March 8, 2010 6:33 AM

I didn't find this particularly enjoyable, mainly because I found it to be a test of previous knowledge, and not of lateral thinking or logic, or something of that sort.
Looking at Wall #9, I know that the first thing that popped out at me were two names:

Pip and Estella.

These two are characters, main characters, in Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. The thing is, if you have read the book, you'll find this easily connectible. That is, if you say BOAT, there are quite a few things about boats you could think of. You could think of types of boats, or uses of boats, or the type of thing a boat is. Maybe the type of material a boat is made of; even the history of boats. But what if you see "Estella"? If you've read the book, you will think only "Great Expectations!" and instantly just search for things about the book. Your mind ties "Estella" with little else besides that one book. But if you haven't read it, you will only see what might a first name, and have nothing to go by.

That is, if you know the references the answer is blatantly obvious; not knowing the reference makes it all but impossible to solve. It felt like as long as you knew what all the words meant, you were set, regardless of your lateral thinking capabilities.

phdavoid March 8, 2010 1:02 PM

Great game. I loved trying to figure them out and was only successful a small portion of the time. Of course it refects a specific culture. All word games and trivia games do. But that made it all the more fun, trying to guess what the connections might be for another culture.

I just about got the recipe for christmas cake, but I didn't image putting money in it

Bring it on. We Canadians deal with this issue in just about every game. Step up America.


This game is a genuine test of knowledge - it hasn't been dumbed down for anyone.

On the actual TV show there are a team of 3 very smart people playing and even they sometimes fail to get a match.

The answers can be revealed after each wall when time runs out.

The average person (regardless of nationality) won't even recognise many matches even when they are shown the answers.

For example, the results for wall 15:

Bullet, Cowboy, Crab, Duece (nicknames for playing cards)
Duck, Love, Scratch, Zip (terms for 'zero')
Ace, Buttress, Fish, Fox (Flying______)
Ahab, Haddock, Hook, Sparrow (fictional captains)

mezzanote March 13, 2010 7:37 PM

I wish there was a tracking system to tell you which walls you have totally solved and which ones you have partially solved, or not solved at all.

Instead of trying to make the game internationally acceptable or gloating over its Britishness, how about a hint system? Solve so many connections or walls, and earn a hint so you can solve a terrible stumper. A puzzle that can't be solved even with research isn't challenging, it's frustrating and makes people give up completely.


" Posted by: JIGuest | March 6, 2010 6:55 PM "

I agree, broken. I know wall #1's london, tower, millenium, and albert are correct (i let timer run out and checked TWICE), but selecting them doens't give them to me.

David Bodycombe March 19, 2010 10:36 PM

JIGuest, you didn't check enough. The four you've listed are not the right group. Remember: there are red herrings, and the grid can only be solved entirely in one way.


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