Wednesday, 12 January 2011

University Challenge - Quarter Finals

1) - Christ's Cambridge v. Oxford Brookes

Well, we’ve reached the fascinating quarter final stage of UC, where teams need two wins from a maximum of three matches to progress. There, you see Jeremy ? Really not all that complicated at all, is it ? I think I should remind everyone that my predictions for the teams I think should reach the semis were Sheffield, Magdalen, Oxford Brookes and Bristol. Which certainly meant that Oxford Brookes would carry the burden of the Clark tip into Monday’s match against Christ’s Cambridge.

Playing for Christ’s sake – I am so sorry, I can’t believe I just wrote that – playing for Christ’s were Jack Belloli, Joe Walmswell, Alexander Greaves and captain Natasha Simonova. For Oxford Brookes we had Sarah Johnson, Austin Sherlaw – Johnson, Richard Williams and captain Anthony McLarin. Austin Sherlaw Johnson took first blood for O.B. , recognising that the deity after whom a famous balsa wood raft was named was Kon Tiki. A full set of bonuses on meteorological extremes followed. Joe Walmswell of Christ’s evened things up with the next starter, to bring the team 2 bonuses on literary feuds. Jack Belloli looked most surprised when he correctly guessed that a quote from Paul Dirac referred to poetry. Jack, it doesn’t matter if it’s a guess or if you know it, a correct answer brings the points no matter what. This released a set of bonuses on visions. Again, 2 were taken, but so was the lead. A good buzz from Anthony McLarin saw him identify the theoretical common ancestor of mankind as the Mitochondrial Eve – or simply the African Eve according to JP. As long as it wasn’t the New Year’s Eve I really shouldn’t worry. OB revealed perhaps a slight Achilles Heel as they failed to get any of a set of bonuses on enzymes. Still, the skipper followed up with his second consecutive starter as he identified a map of unnamed Roman provinces as showing Dalmatia. Again, no bonuses could be taken. A fantastic buzz from opposing skipper Natasha Simonova identified catabasis as the term for a literary journey to the underworld, and with two bonuses on philosophy, Christ’s led by 55 to 45 at 10 minutes.

So far, so even. Jack Belloli widened the gap by taking the first starter on Christina Rossetti. A lovely set of 3 bonuses followed on taglines of films of Shakespeare’s plays. Then Sarah Johnson, who would go on to have a few more good buzzes before the end of the competition, identified the word Honey from a set of cryptic clues – the symbol for the element named after water being the first. A splendidly titled set of bonuses followed. Even JP had to suppress a chuckle as he announced that the bonuses were all on Heads of State with Weight problems ! Richard Williams of OB weighed in with the next starter on physics, and this brought them no bonuses. Following this we saw the finest buzz of the night. Looking for a series of 3 letter words where the 1st and 3rd letter remained the same, but the vowel changed each time, I hadn’t even understood the question by the time that Jack Belloli buzzed in with – bat, bet, bit, bot, but. Fantastic shout. To make it even better for them Christ’s took a full set of bonuses on John Keats. A rather odd sound starter played the sound of a british mammal, and invited teams to guess what it was. Sarah Johnson had a punt with fox, and it proved to be right too. The team guessed one more of the set of three bonuses. Sarah Johnson took the next starter for good measure, and this time the team put away two bonuses on false friends in language learning – see the note at bottom of this review. The next two starters went begging, but Sarah Johnson took the last before the 20 minute mark. By this time the 10 point lead for Christ’s had become a 10 point lead for OB, who led by 115 to 105. Would they rue all those missed bonuses, though ?

They wouldn’t need to if they kept winning the buzzer race, though, and Austin Sherlaw – Johnson, so influential in the 2nd round match, identified the 2nd picture starter as a painting of St. Jerome. 2 bonuses followed on other paintings of Saint Jerome. However OB weren’t gong to be allowed to make a clean getaway as Joe Walmswell took the next starter on homeostasis. Alas , some of his good work was undone with a miscue on the next starter. Given a list of numbers and mammals, he wrongly went for bones in their bodies. Well, when you are trying to catch up you do have to take risks some times. This let Sarah Johnson in again, though, as she correctly answered these were days in their gestation periods. No bonuses were taken on Normandy. Austin Sherlaw-Johnson took the next starter , identifying Germaine Greer’s most famous work as The Female Eunuch. 2 bonuses were taken on Anna Pavlova. Daylight was appearing between the teams, but part of the gap was plugged as Alexander Greaves took the next starter for Christ’s. Once again though this brief revival was extinguished with the smart buzzing of Sarah Johnson, who knew that quotidian ( daily ) events happen 7 times more frequently than hebdomadal ( weekly ) ones. Once again no bonuses followed. Joe Walmswell took the next starter, but no bonuses on Nordic composers were taken. The lead was still 40 , and virtually no time remained as Alexander Greaves took the last starter. There was time for only one correct bonus before the gong, which meant the final result was a win for OB by 185 to 160.

So, well played Oxford Brookes. Not a vintage performance on the bonuses perhaps, but still you have one foot in the semis, which is no mean feat when burdened with the Clark tip. But well played too Christ’s. You are certainly not out of it yourselves.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I’m very disappointed. Other than a rather supercilious “Of course” when Sarah Johnson provided the answer to the quotidian question, there was little or nothing of note, although he did seem to be very amused at having to listen to the sound of a natterjack toad !

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

A ‘false friend ‘ in language learning is a word which although spelled the same has two different meanings in two or more languages. Eg – nombre – number in French, yet name in Spanish.


Des Elmes said...

I expected this match to be very close throughout - and that's pretty much exactly how it turned out.

In the end, it was Oxford Brookes' speed to the buzzer that made all the difference - compensating for their poor luck with the bonuses (only 14/36, with one missignal). Sarah Johnson finished with six starters, thus moving well ahead as Brookes' best buzzer overall with 15 (not counting the tie-break against Cardiff).

Christ's weren't helped by the loss of their records of two out of every three bonuses (managing a mere 16/26) and no missignals (making two). Jack Belloli picked up three starters; Joe Walmswell also got three but made one of the missignals. Natasha Simonova (whom my father claims was a bit panicky on the night) made the other, and thus she and Walmswell are tied as Christ's best buzzers overall, with 11 starters and one incorrect interruption apiece.

Another Cambridge college is in action next week, as Peterhouse take on York, with the winners facing Brookes for a place in the semis. The big question is: what will that incredible match against St John's have done to Peterhouse?

Jack said...

Pretty much agree with what Des has said. A great match between two good teams.

However, I felt both teams were a bit more nervous that usual, and that was having an effect on their answers. Oxford Brookes, in particular, didn't fire on anything like their usual power, IMO.

It appears then that they are doing the quarter-final line-up in order for the first time since 2001-02. In which case, Sheffield will play Magdalen (what a match that might be!) and Queens' will play Bristol.

I don't know about you, but I have a feeling the quarter finals will be a lot closer than last year's.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack and Des

I concure with your sentiments, a nervy performance from both teams indeed. You've got to say, though, that a team who are hard to beat on the buzzer, as OB are, will always have more than a fighting chance.

Peterhouse v. York - neither are among my tips for the semis, but if I had to pick a winner I guess Peterhouse would be slight favourites. Not much in it on relative performances, though.