Tuesday, 16 February 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Quarter Final Qualification Match – Imperial v. Emmanuel

I think that I’m just starting to get the hang of the quarter finals now. Last week nobody was going to get through automatically, but one team was going to be eliminated. Tonight, like the match up two weeks ago, nobody was going to get eliminated, but one of the teams was definitely going to make it through to the semis. So that must mean that we had two teams who won their first quarter final matches, and indeed we do, Imperial and Emmanuel.

Going into the match, if you looked at the stats there was barely anything to choose between the two sides. Their scores in each round so far have been very similar, although Emmanuel did lose to Regents Park in the first round. So with little to choose between both teams in terms of raw ability, tonight’s contest was always going to be decided by the buzzer. First blood went to Mr. Healy of Imperial, who worked out that a series of historical events were all linked by the number 7. 2 out of 3 bonuses on sets of the 3 Rs were taken. Regular LAM reader Gilead Amit , captain of Imperial buzzed in for the next starter, recognising that Seward’s Folly referred to the US purchase of Alaska.All 3 bonuses were taken, and at this early stage Imperial were looking good value for their lead.

Jenny Harris of Emanuel buzzed in early on a starter which gave a definition of a term for a particular kind of rule, only to hear JP continue “which 4 words “ when she only had one word in mind. A wrong first buzz can often unsettle a team, and lead to them drying up on the buzzer, and I feared for Emmanuel at this stage. I needn’t have worried. Mr. Hastings of Emmanuel correctly identified the parietal lobe on the next starter, and battle was joined.All 3 bonuses on quotes from Machiavelli were taken. Mr. Scott of Emmanuel buzzed in early to identify a five letter word meaning an attempt, amongst other things, as essay. Captain Alex Guttenplan, quiet for this first period of the game, visibly perked up at a series of chemistry bonuses, and 3 bonuses were taken. 7 minutes in, and all was square at 45 apiece.

A timely buzz from Mr. Healy to identify Oliver Cromwell’s death mask put Imperial back in front. As for the bonuses, I thought Napoleon’s death mask looked nothing like his paintings. They took 2 bonuses. On 8 and a half minutes Emmanuel’s captain and talisman, Alex Guttenplan scored his first starter, identifying Pyramus as the partner of Thisbe. Only one starter was taken. Mr. Guttenplan was unlucky to miss the next starter, offering orbital mechanics for celestial mechanics, but it mattered not since with the next starter he buzzed in early on a number of terms referring to positions in yoga. So as the first third of the contest came to a close Emmanuel had weathered the early assault from Imperial, and had a slight lead. 2 bonuses were taken. Jenny Harris of Emmanuel took the next starter. One of the features of this Emmanuel performance tonight was that all four members took starters tonight, which is the mark of a good team. 3 bonuses were taken.

At a time when Emmanuel were in danger of pulling out a big lead, Gilead Amit played a captain’s innings by answering that Wordsworth, Elgar etc. were all good examples of alliteration – when their Christian names were taken into account. 2 out of three bonuses cut Emmanuel’s lead to 15 points. The next starter was a great , archetypal University Challenge question. If you take the vowels out of the word – model – in roman numerals which number is represented ? Alex Guttenplan was first to the buzzer with the correct answer of 1550. Two bonuses on smoked fish stretched the lead to 35 points. Neither team fancied the classical music starter, nor the fine art starter that followed. Mr. Scott of Emanuel made no mistake with the next , on organic chemistry, and his second starter of the night saw Emmanuel just beginning to leave Imperial in their wake. They were rather lumbered with the classical music bonuses, and did well to take one of them.

That man Guttenplan had the bit between his teeth now, and correctly identified the Radcliffe line as the demarcation point in 1947 between India and Pakistan. At this stage of the game, moving swiftly towards the final third, and with Emmanuel eking out a healthy lead, you would have forgiven Imperial for slipping out of the match, so its great credit to Gilead for buzzing in to take the next starter. Sadly Imperial didn’t get any change out of a set of bonuses on pigments. Still, Imperial were making a spirited fight, as Gilead continued a very good night’s work to take the next starter, identifying a work which tried to make one consistent narrative of the four gospels, to take Imperial through the 100 point barrier, and decrease the gap between the teams to less than 50. At the 20 minute mark Emmanuel led by 155 to 115. It sounds like a big gap, but it really isn’t, and going into the last third of the match it really was anybody’s game.

Mr. Good took Imperial’s third starter in a row, correctly identifying a mentally incapacitated monarch as Henry VI.Two bonuses halved the gap, to be followed by the second picture round. Nether team could answer, but Mr. Scott of Emmanuel took his third starter by identifying the OED’s definition of the word definition. They took one of the picture bonuses. Captain Guttenplan ‘s nerve was holding, though, as he took the next starter, knowing that if it’s a children’s writer, and it was born in Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen , then it must be Danny Kaye, er, sorry, Hans Christian Andersen. The bonuses were swiftly followed by another Guttenplan starter, to which the answer was Planck’s Constant. This was followed by a nice set of three chestnuts on Security Forces.

So,in a matter of three minutes, the gap had widened to 80 points, and Imperial, who had made a good fight for so much of the match, looked unlikely to come back up to Emmanuel again. Mr. Hastings took the next starter for Emmanuel, who also added the three bonuses on rivers. Jenny Harris buzzed in for the next starter, identifying Bob Dylan’s 2009 album. JP by this time was in top gear, and he raced the team through a full set of bonuses. Mr. Healy of Imperial stopped the rot, identifying the Astana Tour de France team as being based in Kazakhstan. Three bonuses followed. Another starter needing instant calculation of what are Prime numbers and what aren’t fell to who else but Alex Guttenplan. The contest was over, but on 275 it was just possible that Emmanuel could break 300. They failed on a set of bonuses on the first names of a set of characters in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream “though. The next starter went begging, and the gong went halfway through the next . So at the end, Emmanuel won by 275 to 160.

Well done Emmanuel ! You are a fine team, and go from strength to strength. I look forward to seeing you in the semis. As for Imperial, please, don’t despair. 95 points out of the 115 Emmanuel won by came in the last few minutes. You played better than the scoreline shows, and you can still make it to the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP seemed so absorbed in the contest tonight that he hardly had time for any of his trademark interjections. He seemed rather excited about Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, as he peered at the picture, then observed “I thought they’d removed the wart, but you can just see it. “
When Emmanuel identified a number of writers and composers having written about Faust he gave one of his finest dismissive “of course”s, as if rather insulted that he even had to ask such obviously populist stuff.

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

The flag of Northumberland County Council is based on the flag that used to fly over St. Cuthbert’s tomb, described in the Venerable Bede’s ecclesiastical history.


Jim W said...

It was worse than when we played Emmanuel. Imperial put up a fight but Alex is just so damn fast as second-guessing where the questions' going.

I was just uploading some of our old episodes to YouTube - http://www.tinyurl.com/jesuschallenge2 - and watching them back you realise that the main difference is that everyone gets much faster with each round. It's a good thing they don't let the same people back onto UC - because if you've made it to the QF and are half-confident then you'll know the tricks and would storm through to the title.

Although it's bizarre watching these episodes. Thanks to Trimble the filming dates have switched, they've just picked the teams are about to start filming next year's series...the 2011 final will be filmed in er, about March 2010. Whereas these episodes were done at the end of October.

Londinius said...

Hello Jim,

I think you're maing a very valid point here. When it comes to a buzzer quiz - which UC is, really - then I think you do improve with practice. I think also that you become far more acclimatised to playing in the studio environment too, which helps. I believe that Emmanuel possibly even benefitted from losing their first round match - this was their 5th match so far, having had to play in the repechage. There's no substitute for experience. Mind you, having a captain who can answer 7 starters for you correctly in an evening always helps.

I'm not surprised that they have changed the way that they film a series. There was such a furore last year, over the Sam Kay business, that surely they won't take the risk of anything like this happening again. Still, having said this its horrible when you've won a TV series, and then have to wait months before you can let the cat out of the bag. I had to wait slightly more than 8 months between the filming of Mastermind Grand Final 2007, and the actual transmission of the final in March 2008.

By a process of elimination, I think the next show must be your match against Edinburgh. Is it next Monday, or are the rotters putting it back to accomodate the Winter Olympics, do you know ?


Dave C.

Rach Cherryade said...

Another fine match between two great teams, shame only one could win but still think Imperial deserve a place in the semis! Though the new rules are a bit frustrating for us teams that won our first qf matches I really have to admit it's making for excellent viewing, plus it makes the series last longer which can only be a good thing!

I agree that teams seem to become more confident as the show progresses, I suppose it's only natural. Also, it's probably the first tv quiz most of us have ever done which adds more pressure, though I don't know if it gets easier the more quizzes you take part in. Perhaps you can tell me please David, do you still feel as nervous on each new broadcast quiz or are you a bit less stagestruck now you've been on a few?

Take care,

Londinius said...

Hi Rach

I think that it probably affects each of us differently, but yes, I've found that it does get eaasier. In each of my Mastermind appearences I did better than the previous - IIRC my scores were : -
2006 - 24 and 4 passes - 2007 rd 1 - 28 and 2 passes - semi final - 28 and no passes - final - 30 and no passes.

The first couple of times you're involved in a TV quiz everything is wierd, especially if its an established show, because the set, and probably the presenter are so familiar too you, yet everything else about the way the show is done is so strange and unfamiliar. Each time you go back, it a little less strange, and so you're a little more relaxed. The more shows you do, the more you get used to the routines - wardrobe, makeup etc. , which stands you in good stead whichever other shows you go on.

Best regards