Monday, 26 July 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

First Round Match 4 – Peterhouse Cambridge v. University of Exeter

There was a nice contrast between the colleges represented by tonight’s teams. Peterhouse , represented by Edward Tait, Ben Slingo, Captain Louise Howes and Christopher Stanton, is actually the oldest college of Cambridge University, formed in 1284, and has apparently only 260 undergraduates. Opponents Exeter, represented by James Williams, Finn Raven, Captain Tim Abbott and James Milnes is a bit younger, having become a university in 1955. Still, with alumni such as Peter and Zara Phillips, and J.K. Rowling they’ve made their mark. I have to admit I thought it was rather naughty of JP to chastise them for not putting a stamp onto the envelope containing their application form just before asking the first question.

Off we went, then. Not for the last time tonight Ben Slingo of Peterhouse correctly answered the first starter, and Peterhouse were given a set of Shakespeare quotes as bonuses for their pains, of which they took two out of three. Mr. Slingo found his range early tonight, as he correctly identified a set of clues to the names of London mainline railway stations for the second starter. This time Peterhouse took all 3 bonuses by identifying decades of the 20th century from a treaty signed in each. At this stage it seems the excellent captain Tim Abbott of Exeter decided it was time to get involved in the match, and took his team’s first starter by identifying Byron’s quote about a waltz. Once again this triggered a set of quotations for the bonuses, and Exeter took all of them. Game on.

The 4th starter was one of only a couple which were missed by both teams, as neither identified Little Dorrit. Tim Abbott took his second starter by identifying ‘L’il Folks’ as the original title of the Peanuts cartoon strip. So, not to be outdone, Mr. Slingo took the next starter, the picture starter, correctly identifying the logo of wikipedia. A good set of bonuses followed. The logo has 15 letters from 15 different writing systems, 3 of which they were asked to identify. 2 out of 3 bonuses were taken. Then we saw the night’s first incorrect interruption, with Abbott of Exeter failing to identify Jupiter’s Red Spot. Edward Tait of Peterhouse made no such mistake, and although they failed to answer any of the bonuses on architects, at the 10 minute mark Peterhouse had carved out a healthy lead of 70 points to 30.

Captain Louise Howes shook her head when she offered JP the answer Wall Street as the original home of the New York Stock Exchange. She should have had more faith, for it was right. This started off a spate of tit for tat exchanges, as first Abbott interrupted correctly to identify Cymbeline as the Shakespeare character who was king of the Catevellauni, and then Tait correctly answered a medicinal starter. As a rule, though, Peterhouse were answering more of their bonuses correctly than Exeter seemed to be managing. They had now pushed through the 100 point barrier. James Milnes hit back when he took the music starter, recognising Shirley Bassey singing Hey Big Spender. A set of bonuses on 3 welsh female vocalists, and it was nice to see Neath getting a name check as the birthplace of Katherine Jenkins. She didn’t go to my school, but I know people who did teach her in the school down the road. Mr. Slingo, who impressed tonight, then took the next starter identifying the word libido as a Freudian term derived from the latin for lust.

So just as Peterhouse were seemingly applying cruise control, things started to go just a tiny bit pear shaped. Mr. Slingo incorrectly interrupted with “2nd Punic Wars”, while if he’d waited he’d have known the answer required was “Hannibal”, as gratefully supplied by captain Abbott. A bit of a shame to see that nobody in the Exeter team had heard the old quiz chestnut about Giles Gilbert Scott designing the red telephone box, but if you don’t know it, you don’t know it. Edward Tait of Peterhouse then added fuel to the Exeter mini recovery by interrupting early on metal, not waiting long enough to be given the chemical symbol W which gave the impressive Tim Abbott tungsten. This was a good period for Exeter, as first Raven and then Abbott again took the next two starters. So at the 20 minute mark the score stood at 155 to 110. The advantage was with Peterhouse, but the momentum was with Exeter. A test of nerve, then.

James Milnes of Exeter took the next starter by correctly answering that Ukraine will be co-hosts of the next European Nations football championships along with Poland. This, however, was as close as Exeter were fated to get. Vince Slingo came storming back now, identifying dactyl. As part of a finger, and also a metrical foot in poetry. In the next couple of minutes he would answer another 2 starters. I was particularly impressed with his swift answer that the antonym of the word antonym is synonym. It does make sense, but you do have to think about it for a moment or two. Well, I did, anyway. He also knew that Iain Banks uses his initial M. to denote when he writes in a particular genre. Messrs Stanton and Tait also added starters in this period, as Exeter were left trailing in their wake, watching them disappear over the event horizon. In the last couple of minutes Abbott showed great buzzer speed by taking the simplest starter of the night, asking which European capital city is on the River Tagus. At this stage they couldn’t win, but a repechage score was still a possibility. There was no mercy from Ben Slingo, though, as he took the next. JP, by going 90 to the dozen slipped in another starter, which Mr. Abbott got, but that was it. At the gong Peterhouse had won comfortably by 265 to 165. Well done Peterhouse. That score certainly makes you look a decent bet for the second round. As for Exeter, last year 165 would have done, but as two runner up teams have already scored more highly than that this series I have to say it looks unlikely at this stage. Hard lines, but well played.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

A positive smorgasbord for the Paxman aficionado tonight, after the relative famine rations of the last few weeks. At the start he waxed almost poetical, offering us
“The rules are as constant as the northern star. “
Then in a set of quotations, the third one was correctly identified as being an example of the wit and wisdom of Paris Hilton, to which JP replied “Yeah, sad, isn’t it. “
When Ben Slingo gave his first incorrect buzz of the night on the punic wars and Hannibal, after Tm Abbott had given the right answer JP turned to Mr. Slingo and offered him
“Mr. Slingo, you’re answering more difficult questions !” MISTER Slingo ? An unexpected show of respect there. Finally, and best of all , a wonderful pause and funny look when Finn Raven offered El Greco as an answer to one of a set of picture bonuses on French painters, and a disdainful
“Its nothing like an El Greco ! Is it ? “

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

George Bernard Shaw described “Little Dorrit” as a more seditious text than Das Kapital. Not only that, but the Sunday teatime BBC classic serial of Das Kapital was crap, too.


Jacob said...

Point of pedantry - it was a rather abashed Milnes who got the Shirley Bassey question, and Exeter who got the music bonuses with them.

As for Exeter?
Keep hope ;)

Londinius said...

Oooppsss ! Sorry, I'll amend the post now.


Jack said...

Both teams were very good last night, but, ultimately, it was Peterhouse's very impressive final burst that won it for them.

I'd like to see Exeter back, but, like Balliol last week, it's a very slim chance.
I will note that 165 is the highest losing score not to bring team back. In the 2002/03 series, UCL, UMIST and Brasenose Oxford all lost with 165, but only two could be bought back. Brasenose lost out for reasons unspecified, but Iain Weaver suspects it may have been because they didn't do as well with the bonuses.

HughTube said...

The 2001/02 season there was also a tie for the fourth highest-scoring loser spot, Leeds and Cardiff with 145. Sean Blanchflower's page says it was given to Leeds because they got that score "in a shorter time, and with fewer wrong answers". I'd imagine the same reasoning applied to Brasenose. Though I would take in to account the score of the opposition if I were doing it.

Suzie Bee said...

By "Vince Slingo", I think you mean "Ben Slingo".

Londinius said...

Hi Jack and Hugh, thanks for dropping by.

Suzie, I'm sorry about that and meant no offence. I just listened to each of the team members introduce themselves, and it sounded like Vince to me - I will change the post now in light of your comments. Thanks.

djhowes said...

Another pedantic point, and I'm not entirely sure of the origin, but Peterhouse is always 'Peterhouse' and never 'Peterhouse College'. I think it's something to do with its age and the fact it is a 'house', and not a 'hall' or a 'college', which as seats of learning came later.

Londinius said...

Hello djhowes

I'll fix the post - again - now. I don't mean to offend anyone with these errors, guys. To be honest I don't know whether I'm feeling shellshocked, or whether I should take it as a compliment that people expect me to get everything right !


Jacob said...

I think it's more a reflection of the trend that 'being a pedant' and 'being interested in quizzes' are often linked! ...

Londinius said...

Well, if we can't be pedants in a quiz, where can we be pedants ?!

Londinius said...

Sorry about this. The blog is playing sily buggers again. I have made all the correct changes to the post, but it keeps coming back as the original one I posted with erros, wrong names etc. The blog was doing this a few months ago. It did only last for a few days, so hopefully it will be normal service soon.