Tuesday, 26 January 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Quarter Final stage match 4 – Jesus College Oxford v. Emmanuel College Cambridge

Look , my friends, it doesn’t get a lot better than this, does it ? Only Connect follows at 8:30, while on University Challenge we have a quarter final match-up between Oxford and Cambridge. Jesus v. Emmanuel. Here’s an interesting question. In this match up, who’s the underdogs ? It’s a serious question. After all, taking an aggregate of first round match and second matches only, then Jesus look clearly better. Yet if you forget about the first round match that Emmanuel lost to Regents Park, then Emmanuel have hugely impressive figures for their last two matches, right up there with the best of the series. Well, back in December my four picks to do well in the quarters were St. John’s, Imperial, Manchester – who all won their first match – and Emmanuel. Was the curse of the Clark sofa finally to bite back, or would it be a clean sweep of the first set of matches ?

At first it looked like maybe the curse was going to take effect, as the first starter went to Mr. Speller of Jesus. He correctly interrupted spotting that Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, and a seventeenth century parliament were linked by the word Long. Mr. Speller was a bit of a star in the first round, and with the excellent Alex Guttenplan leading Emmanuel it looked like we could be in for something of a classic buzzer shoot out. Mr. Speller took the second starter as well, identifying PG Wodehouse as the british resident of Le Touquet who made an infamous broadcast during world war II, which almost certainly prevented him eventually receiving a knighthood. However for the next starter Alex Guttenplan identified Ethel as the girl’s name originating from the anglo saxon word for noble. Game on. The next starter was impressive. After a long preamble, as soon as the words ‘hardest known substance’ began to pass JPs lips, Guttenplan’s buzzer rang out. Correctly too, as he identified diamond. At this stage we had a real contest, as Jesus came back to win a third starter, recognising Kaiser Willhelm II, but failing to recognise three other rulers from 1900. They fell into the error of mistaking Tsar Nicholas II for his first cousin King George V.

We reached the ten minute mark with Jesus leading by 60 points to 40. At this stage it was anybody’s game. However Alex Guttenplan was beginning to build up a head of steam, and in fact the whole of the Emmanuel team were looking sharp. At one point I thought that Alex Guttenplan was giving us a Jimmy Shand impression when he gave three rhyming answers – Spruce, Truce, Juice. No, I’m not explaining that reference to anyone under fifty. You’ll just have to take my word for it that its hilarious. Jenny Harris, Emmanuel’s literature expert, started weighing in with some good buzzes during the second third of the competition as well. Mr. Scott, also weighed in with an impressive interruption on geology as well.

As an aside, it was interesting to hear a question about Frank Loesser’s song “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”. There was a question about that in my BoB semi final – which we all got wrong !. Then we had a question about the Clarke orbit. Hang about ! This question was recycled from an earlier show. This was one of my original “Interesting Fact I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week” s. Yes, it was asked back in September, when St. Hugh’s just beat Magdalene ! So I got it right this time !

Well, it had been a good ten minutes for Emmanuel by the 20 minute mark. Jesus still languished on 40, but Emmanuel now had a whopping 180. The contest looked over, although funnily enough when we moved into the last third of the contest at least Jesus began to emerge from their straitjacket. From now until the gong the teams pretty much swapped starters. However, while Jesus were nudging themselves past 100, Emmanuel were striking out towards 300. At the gong, Emmanuel had won by 280 points to Jesus’ 125 points. Another highly impressive performance. Don’t be fooled, this Jesus team are a good outfit, but Emmanuel go from strength to strength. Alex Guttenplan put in another stellar performance, but he was well supported by his team too. They could – just could, mind you – go a long way.

I’ve made up my mind – I really like the new format. Still, it will be very hard lines for any of the four winners we have so far who don’t make it to the semis. Time will tell.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Jeremy was almost all charm tonight. I feel strangely cheated. Oh, he had a nice dig in the set of questions about monarchs from 1900,
“That was Victor Emmanuel of Italy, who believed that all you needed to be king was to be able to ride a horse and to sign your own signature.”
When Alex Guttenplan buzzed in for a starter, and then apologised for having no answer, JP, who had every reason for being as shocked as the rest of us, replied in a manner that was all honey and syrup
“ Ooh , bad luck, I thought you’d got it. “ What on earth has got into him ?

Interesting Fact Of The Week That I Didn’t Already Know

In Germany a mobile phone is a handy !


Maltina said...

Common names for mobile phones

A helpful post - your supplied answers saved me much googling, as I didn't watch the quiz.

The 'handy' question raised one of my pet peeves about many quizzes: there aren't enough questions on the cultures of other countries. Britons are generally great travellers, but 'world questions' are an area of weakness in many quizzes; most such questions tend to be about geography, or perhaps rulers. For the record, I also think that there tends to be too few and too narrow a band of science questions.

Anyway. I compiled a list of international slang names for mobile handsets. I knew a surprising number of these - a consequence of living in supremely cosmopolitan London. I've left out countries that only seem to use the obvious terms. Culturally, it is interesting that so many countries use the standard terms, cellphone, mobile etc, and have no term in local languages. I would expect it to be the same for 'laptop', but not for 'car'.

USA - cellphone

Malaysia - handphone, handset

SA - cell/cellphone

Greece - kinito

Australia - mobile

Brasil - celular

Algeria - portable

Lithuania - telefas, mobilnikas, mobiliakas, ragelis

Mexico, Argentina, Colombia - celular, cel

Spain - móvil

Netherlands - mobiel pron.'mobiil'

Finland - kännykkä, puhelin (phone)

Russia - mobilnik, sotoviy, sotyk

Indonesia - hape, telepon, ponsel

India - cell/mobile/phone varies

Iran - hamrah, gooshi

Israel - pelephone, nayad

Egypt - mahmol

Bulgaria - GSM

Portugal - telemóve l

Azerbaijan - Sotvi, bjjayin

Poland - komórka

Croatia - mobitel

Londinius said...

Hi Maltina,

Another very thought provoking comment, thank you. I think that generally your point about the narrowness of world questions, and science questions in quizzes is well made. This is purely my opinion, but I think that there is a tendency when making a pub quiz, for example, to ask mainly what is relatively easy or accessible, and I think that this is true to an extent of television quizzes as well. Its almost like there are unwritten guidelines about what is fair game to be asked in a quiz , and what is not. You end up asking the sort of thing that people expect to be asked, because at the end of the day you are making an entertainment. If you like, what is asked on a TV quiz is driven by public taste. It conforms to a particular agenda, rather than setting its own. To a significant section of the British public, Geography mostly is about capitals, and flags, and rulers, while History mostly is about wars, and kings and disasters and Literature is Shakespeare, Dan Brown and JK Rowling. I’m being flippant, but I’m sure that you understand what I am driving towards.

Science is a special case on its own. In the “40 years of University Challenge” book it makes the point that good Science questions are the hardest ones to come up with. After all, you’re prevented from asking a lot of things by your need to have something with a short, definitive answer. There’s also often the need to use technical, or subject specific vocabulary in the question itself, which I’m afraid can act as a turn off to many viewers, and/or participants in a pub quiz.

It also depends on the level at which you quiz. A pub quiz will tend to stick to the obvious with regards to ‘world questions’ and ‘science’. Partly this is for the simple reason that nobody wants to go to a quiz where they don’t know hardly any of the answers. However I don’t know if you know about the Grand Prix quiz circuit, but the range of questions you would be asked in a grand prix quiz is far broader, especially in the two areas that you highlight. Partly this is because there is a growing European circuit, with an annual European Championships.

Thanks for the list – my favourite is still the German though !