University Challenge - Second Semi Final - Monday 16th February
St. John's College Cambridge v. Corpus Christi, Oxford
Such has been the imperious form shown by Corpus Christi throughout the series that they were red hot favourites going into this semi final. In the end they won comfortably enough, but St. John's can take heart from the fact that they restricted them to their lowest score, and their lowest winning margin.
Those who witnessed Corpus Christi's quarter final performance will remember that it was very much The Gail Trimble Show, the most impressive performance by an individual in the show that I have ever seen. Well, last night's was more of a team performance, with some good starter buzzes by the other members of the team as well. Gail Trimble still had more correct starters than any of them, and some of her buzzes showed exceptional reactions and anticipation.
What of St. John's ? They can take a lot of pride from their performance throughout the series, and also from their performance last night. For make no mistake, they made a real competition of this match. After seeming shellshocked for the first few minutes by Corpus Christi's customary blitz start, they fought back well. Mr. Dolan was particularly effective, and I should think he was the most successful buzzer for St. John's. They weren't quite as clinical on the bonuses as Corpus Christi, and they buzzed too early a couple of times, but even so they played very well, and kept their heads even though they must have been aware that the match was gently slipping away from them. The final score was
Corpus Christi - 260
St. John's - 150
So, what are Corpus Christi's chances in the final ? Well I tipped them to be champions after their quarter final win, and I see no reason to change now. There are a couple of points which I think will determine the outcome next week.
* Both Manchester and Corpus Christi have what seem to be 'star' players - Pertinez of Manchester, and Gail Trimble of Corpus Christi. We know from the semi final that Manchester don't need Pertinez to be absolutely on song to perform brilliantly. We don't know how well Corpus Christi could perform if Gail Trimble was not on top form.
* We don't honestly know who is faster on the buzzer. If I had to nail my colours to the mast I would say that Corpus Christi seem to buzz in a little faster on starters than Manchester do. But having said that, Manchester were able to destroy a very fine side in the semi finals by being consistently a fraction of a second quicker on the buzzer.
* Neither side have shown the slightest sign of nerves so far. But will the pressure of being in the final affect either of them ?
So I take Corpus Christi to win, by a margin of less than 100, but nothing would surprise me. Best of luck to both teams.