University Challenge – Round One – Heat 11 – Durham University v. Magdalen, Oxford
A heavyweight bout looked very much on the cards when JP began the show by announcing that both teams represent institutions that have been champions in the past. Representing Durham were Lisa McGough, Roger Fox, Matthew Griffiths, and captain Matt Hann. I must just pay tribute to Matthew Griffiths research subject of “Poetry and Climate Change “, my favourite since “Weird Fiction “ of 2008.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day ?
Bloody global warming !”
As for Magdalen, they were represented by James McComish, Kyle Haddad-Fonda, Will Cudmore and captain Matthew Chan. What, no sarky comments here Dave ? No, we’ve no time. It was that kind of show. Lets go.
First blood to Durham, who recognised a flattering comparison of John Falstaff to Achilles and other heroes. Two out of three bonuses were taken on the philosophy of Art. Then began part one of The Magdalen Show. I say this not in any mean spirited way, but mainly out of a sense of awe at a very, very fine team performance. Will Cudmore took his first of many starters by identifying a series of popes as being members of the Medici family. 2 bonuses were taken on political poets. Magdalen were exceptionally good on the buzzer all night, but Will Cudmore came in a little too early on the next, and lost 5 points by failing to identify that the man who crashed into the mirror was demonstrating roller skates ( see below ). No huge harm done, as Durham couldn’t take advantage and the next starter fell to Magdalen. In fact many of the next starters fell to Magdalen. To pick out a few, Will Cudmore was fearsomely quick on the first picture starter, buzzing in to identify the city crest of Florence within nanoseconds of its appearance. When James McComish explained that JPL stands for Jet Propulsion Laboratories, a set of bonuses on our old friend Anglish appeared. I first met Anglish in the last series – basically it’s the attempt to replace English words of Latin or French origin with words with an Anglo Saxon origin. Apparently first stuff is Anglish for element. It’ll never catch on. Matthew Griffiths took his and his team’s second starter right on the 10 minute mark when he identified Paul Dirac as the British physicist who shared the Nobel prize with Schroedinger. Whether he shared the cat as well was not gone into. At ten minutes Magdalen lead by 105 to 35.
If you hear the words –Spanish city and bombed – chances are Guernica is the one you’re being asked about Kyle Haddad-Fonda certainly thought so, and it brought him a starter. I’ve watched the show a couple of times, and it’s very hard to single out 1 star from this Magdalen outfit. Captain Matthew Chan was very well served by his team, as McComish, Haddad-Fonda and Cudmore were all very big hitters in the show – and if that doesn’t fill opposing teams with dread, then it should, since even if one of them has an off night, the chances of all of them doing so is mighty slim. Still, while we’re paying tribute to big hitters, lets spare a thought for Matthew Griffiths. He used exactly the right tactics all match, trying to take the sting out of the Magdalen buzzer work by buzzing even on a half asked question. He was unlucky to identify a quote as coming from Beowulf, only for the second half of the question to swerve away into asking for the name of the monster Grendel, which of course he would have known.
Magdalen ploughed on. Another thing which really impressed me was a bonus conversion rate which seemed to me to be very high. When Mr. Haddad-Fonda correctly identified a definition of the Coriolis effect, it pushed Magdalen through the 200 barrier , when we hadn’t yet even reached the 17 minute mark. Their pace was so ferocious that it almost came as a relief when neither team really fancied the highest prime factor of 2010. At last Durham managed to nose their way back in when Lisa McGough identified a form of ancient shorthand. At the 20 minute mark, though, it was 260 to 60.
The highpoint of Durham’s evening came when Matthew Griffiths identified the second picture starter which showed both Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger playing The Joker. This was followed by three sets of photos showing different actors playing Hannibal Lecter, Spock and Kirk, and Darth Vader/Anikin Skywalker. Mr. Griffiths had the lot, a fact which impressed even cynical JP. Captain Matt Hann took the next, knowing that the word squirrel comes from the greek for shade tail. Alright, the match was already over as a contest, and Durham were unlikely to get close to a repechage spot, but when they were given a chance at the bonuses you could see that they are actually a useful outfit, just very unlucky to come up against a team as good as Magdalen. Only complex mathematical or arithmetical questions seemed to present them with any problems at all, and the way that they make rapid accumulation of points seem a simple business should ring alarm bells to most of the other teams left in the competition. At the bell they had amassed a whopping 340 to Durham’s 120. Yes, it’s true, there is only so much you can read into a first round performance. But Magdalen, I have to say, at times you were breathtaking. Highly impressive stuff.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
I think that JP must have been feeling the pace in this show. He belted through the questions, and he needed to since Magdalen were giving him no rest at all. In fact the only mildly amusing JP moment I noticed at all was the way in which , despite both teams referring to the pop group Muse, when JP said their name it sounded an awful lot like “Moos”.
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
The man who gave the first public demonstration of roller skates could not in fact change direction, and went headlong into a mirror.
PS - I haven't forgotten Only Connect - very busy tonight, but will post review tomorrow