Tuesday, 26 October 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Play off 2 – St. Andrews v. St. John’s, Cambridge

It was back in July that we saw St. Andrews play out a thriller against Bristol, when the team of Polak, Gardner, Nakornchai and captain Small lost out on the very last question, by 185 to 190. St. John’s on the other hand also lost by 5 points, 180 to 175 against Merton, but this was in the last heat of the first round. They were represented by the team of Bennett – Spragg, Wilson, Tecks and captain Orr who had played so well in their first round match. Game on.

Mr. Small of St. Andrews buzzed in impressively early to identify a tutelary spirit amongst other things as a genius. Touch of genius shown in getting that one so quickly I would have said. St. Andrews signalled that they meant business by getting a full set of three bonuses relating to Everyman. With the sides so evenly matched on first round performance you might have expected St. John’s to come straight back, and you would have been right to do so. Elliott Bennett-Spragg leapt straight in, and secured a set of bonuses on financial abbreviations. Neither team remembered that last year’s anglo saxon hoard was found in Staffordshire, but a superb early buzz began a very good night for Mr. Wilson of St. John’s, as he recognised a definition of an Angstrom from a very few words of explanation. I always thought that was Rabbit’s surname from Rabbit Run et. al. Learn something new every day. 2 bonuses followed on art terms. Bearing in mind the difficulty both teams, especially Cardiff showed in converting bonuses last week, I was keeping a special eye on this feature of the game tonight. Neither team fancied the fifth starter, but that man Wilson buzzed in again with a question asking about different pronunciations of the letters –over. 2 bonuses fell to them on the structure of cells. The picture starter showed a map of London with a highlighted thoroughfare, and Mr. Nakornchai of St. Andrews impressed me mightily by identifying Whitehall. This too was to be a very impressive night for him as well. Three more thoroughfares were highlighted on the map, but identifying them wasn’t enough, for they had to provide the cost of the street in monopoly. Great question, the sort of thing you only get on UC. 1 out of 3 bonuses on this question was pretty impressive. Mr. Nakornchai also took the next starter on Nobel Prizes, and with 2 bonuses this brought the scores level at 55 apiece at the 10 minute mark.

Mr. Gardner took the third starter in a row for St. A’s by identifying the work being described as Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians. Bonuses on choreographers proved elusive for them. Evening things up Mr. Bennett-Spragg identified Dryden’s Annus Mirabilis, and one bonus on craters pushed them a little ahead. Neither team fancied the next starter on Chemistry, but Mr. Wilson knows cold fusion when he hears it described. Well, fusion he said, I think, but JP was happy enough with the answer, and 1 bonus followed on freshwater fish. This led next to the music starter. Hardly surprising that people who weren’t born when John Lennon released (Just like ) Starting Over didn’t recognise it, although it did provide a JP moment on what was otherwise a slack night. The music bonuses went to St. A’s when Mr. Nakornchai identified Robert Devereux as the Earl of Essex. They earned one bonus . Captain James Orr of St. John’s stepped in when he realised the next starter was talking about the Nike logo. Two bonuses on African empires followed, after which Elliott Bennett-Spragg contributed another timely starter with the names of the 2 German generals who virtually took all the Kaiser’s executive power towards the end of WWI as Ludendorff and Hindenburg. 2 bonuses followed on deans. Both teams were managing to make decent headway with whatever sets of bonuses seemed to be thrown at them tonight, and the prospect of a grandstand finish was beginning to loom on the horizon. Mr. Nakornchai maintained his excellent form for St. A’s, taking a starter on the EU, thus earning one successful mathematical theorem bonus. At the 20 minute mark , though St. John’s led by 125 to 95.

Mr. Wilson took the second picture starter to begin the run in towards the home straight, recognising Amelia Earhart, which earned them three successful bonuses on other aviation pioneers. Mr. Gardner kept St. A’s in it with a starter which gave several definitions of the figure 1 slash 4. 2 bonuses followed on acanthus leaves. Mr. Nakornchai followed it with another starter, recognising a set of postcodes all belonging to residences of the Queen. With three successful bonuses on Sartre, this narrowed the gap to a mere 10 points. Cometh the hour, cometh Wilson of St. J’s, and he buzzed like a demon on the next starter which involved an element of the periodic table , and a qwerty keyboard. No, I’m afraid you’ll just have to watch it on the iplayer. Only 1 bonus was correctly answered, but James Orr urged his team on by taking the next starter, on French wine regions. 2 correct bonuses on noodles followed. Seeing the gap wax as the time remaining waned that man Nakornchai redoubled his efforts, and took the next starter on a very early buzz identifying red and yellow as the two colours on a series of national flags. Unfortunately no correct bonuses followed. The next starter fell to Elliott Bennett-Spragg of St. J’s, who took one of a set of bonuses on Edicts. With the gap at 50 points now St. Andrews looked just about finished, and even more so as Mr. Bennett-Spragg took the next starter for good measure, and two bonuses with it. In a fine display of never –say – die spirit Mr. Nakornchai took the next starter , identifying ASEAN as the association of South East Asian Nations. However the very last word went to Mr. Wilson who took the last starter right on the gong. A great contest, but a fine last 10 minutes sealed a clear win for St. John’s by 225 to 165.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

A slack week this. JP seemed really to be enjoying this one, and so was on his best , if most boring, behaviour. I did enjoy his plaintive cry over the John Lennon starter, of,
“Is ANYBODY going to buzz ? “ As with the oysters in the Walrus and the Carpenter, answer came there none.

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

Joy Adamson, Barbara Hepworth and Simone de Beauvoir all have craters named after them on Venus.


HughTube said...

I enjoyed that match and thought both teams were pretty strong. Did you notice that Mark Wilson and Caroline Tecks had swapped positions? I wonder why they did that. Anyway I'm eagerly anticipating next week's match: Christ's vs. Edinburgh. Should be good, though a little odd to place the 2nd and 4th highest scoring teams together in the second round.

Jack said...

Indeed Hugh. Such a shame that two of, what I've been calling, 'the Power Five' (Magdalen, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Christ's and Peterhouse) should face each other in the second round. Should be a good match, but, like Des said previosuly, who's to say one team won't completely dominate like Emmanuel did to Manchester and St John's.

On another note, this means Cambridge now have SIX teams into Round 2! And I thought five was an acheivement. I wouldn't be surprised we had an all-Cambridge clash at some point in the second round.

Should be a good second round! Keep it up Dave!

Londinius said...

Hello Hugh and Jack

You know, especially when you consider the round robin system now in place for the quarter final stage since last year you'd think that there is some argument for seeding in the second round to avoid such potentially juicy matches happening relatively early in the competition.

I do appreciate the argument that if you want to be champions you must be prepared to play and beat any of the other teams in the competition in any stage of it. But it is a shame if it ends up weakening the quarter final lineup. I'm not trying to disparage any of the other teams, and I hope that my comments won't be taken by anyone as meaning that.


Des Elmes said...

I too noticed the swapping of places - something you don't see very often.

Perhaps it was decided that it would be better, for whatever reason, if Wilson was on Orr's right rather than his left?

Anyway, while St John's surge in the final third was indeed a factor in their victory, for me the outcome was decided on an OC-round-two-style starter which basically asked what 4! is.

Obviously and understandably it was pressure that caused the otherwise excellent Nakornchai to say 20 instead of 24 - but had he said the latter, and St Andrews had then done well with the bonuses, this match could very well have gone right to the wire.

It was an excellent match all the same, greatly living up to expectations, with the teams pretty much matching each other on the bonuses, and picking up quite a number of good starters.

Next up for St John's is Exeter, and that should be another cracker. So should next week's first second-rounder - and I agree with Jack that it is a shame that we should have two of the best teams in the first round meeting this early. But then - assuming that the draw for this stage is entirely random, which IMO is the way it should be - this is always possible...

Londinius said...

Hi Des,

Yes, if it is a random draw , then you can't complain if it doesn't turn out to provide us with our 'in a perfect word scenario'. I suppose. Shame though !


Chris said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this match. Playing at home I found it interesting that I struggled on most of the questions before the music starter and got most of the questions after!

When I was on a training course prior to working as an instructor at the police training college (1994) I remember reading about training being offered to US college professors concerning cultural references as most of their students did not know who John Lennon was. I'm sure those professors would be turning in their graves at no one identifying him on UC!

William said...

Did Caroline Tecks answer any question? She looked very good though which is probably why she swapped seats. Wonder what she will wear next?