Are we sitting comfortably ? Good, then I’ll begin. This, ladies and gents, was a biggie. You’ll recall that I made my predictions for better or worse of the four teams that would make it through to the semis. Two of them were drawn to clash in tonight’s match. Magdalen Oxford had been possibly the most impressive of all the teams in the first round, although perhaps not quite as sharp in their second round match. Three big hitters in the shape of James McComish, Kyle Haddad – Fonda and Will Cudmore offered captain Matthew Chan plenty of options. Sheffield are, as you’ve probably worked out by now, my adopted team for this season, with at least three LAM readers in their team – our own Hugh Bennett and Tris Cole, and also Andy Bolton, who backed captain Tom Thirkell. On with the motley – sorry, the match.
Tris took the first starter, recognising that the five letter word that JP was looking for was magic. So was his answer. A couple of bonuses were taken on political terms. James McComish started early tonight taking the next starter on Marcel Proust – there was no temps perdu here ! Sorry. They also took two bonuses on Central America. James also took the next , recognising a good gossip when he heard one, and once again two bonuses on novels adapted for the screen. Then 4 consecutive Sheffield starters followed, as my boys began to find top gear. Andy recognised a definition of a prism. Hugh took the picture starter, seeing the late Joan Sutherland . Here’s a thought – had she actually passed away before they recorded the show ? Unpleasant coincidence if not. Hugh took a second consecutive starter with woodpeckers, an exceptionally good anticipation that one, I thought. Finally Tris recognised a quotation from Wordsworth. At the 10 minute mark Sheffield were firmly in the driving seat, and looked good value for their lead, of 85 to 40.
Magdalen are far too good to be just brushed aside, though. Andy added to the lead when he identified the ancient site on Orkney under discussion as Skara Brae. Only 1 bonus on mutinies followed. Then both teams were becalmed for a while, as two starters passed by untaken. Kyle Haddad –Fonda, one of Magdalen’s big hitters, miscued , allowing Andy Bolton to grab the points for the Eustachian tube. Then Kyle Haddad-Fonda found his range. He buzzed in extremely quickly to identify the music of Offenbach on the music starter. He followed this up with the next, on Bretton Woods. James McComish then knew that the small duchy being asked for in the next starter was Cleeves. It was Andy Bolton’s turn to miscue on the next starter, but he was doing the right thing. When the opposition are building up momentum like this, you have to get in on the buzzer. He managed this with the next one, knowing well that the album prize created as an antidote to the Brits is the Mercury Music prize. Kyle Haddad-Fonda took his third correct starter of the mid period next with Charlemagne, a quick buzz which earned JPs approval – not easily done, that. James McComish took the next on the Human Development Index, to release a UC special – a set of bonuses on anagrams of elements. Cracking good set . As dominant as Sheffield had been in the first period, Magdalen had repaid this by the 20 minute mark, with the scores now standing at 135 apiece.
Nip and tuck, then. Not half. Hugh fought back with the next starter on Bombay. No bonuses followed on my home city . Shame on you boys ! Will Cudmore finally got on the scoreboard with the 1001 Arabian Nights. 3 bonuses on pictures from the same followed. Nobody took the next, but then Kyle H-F. answered that apart from black and white there are four colours on the flag of South Africa. Quite right. Will Cudmore took the next, knowing that we were dealing with Shakespeare’s King Henry IV. Magdalen were stretching away. Was it to end like this ? No, , at least, not yet. You have to say, though, with a few minutes left and a 45 point lead they looked like the favourites. Andy Bolton made a crucial buzz with the next to identify glycogen. A cracking pressure answer. Tris took the next with Rebus. With 5 bonuses out of 6 the boys were all square. Hugh took the next starter, knowing that the two primes whose sum makes up the next prime are 2 and 3. Yet no bonuses were taken on shellfish. Kyle H-F., very much the hero of the Magdalen team tonight, weighed in yet again with the word Her for the next starter, and two bonuses on deserts followed. This was undone with a Will Cudmore miscue, which allowed Hugh to inform JP that it was Eisenhower who was president when Macmillan became PM. Just so. That man Haddad-Fonda was back again to save Magdalen with the next starter. Just in front now, there was only one more starter to go. Will Cudmore miscued, supplying the wrong girl’s name - 5 points gone. If Tris, who buzzed for Sheffield got it wrong, then Magdalen would win anyway. “Agnes” he replied, cool as a cucumber. Correct, of course. Sheffield now had a 5 point lead, and no time remained at all as the gong sounded.
My goodness, what a great match. Sheffield, I’m so proud of you ! Many congratulations. As for Magdalen – I know that it must have hit you hard. But you played a blinder too, and I can’t see that you won’t get to the semis as well playing like that.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
No doubt in my mind that JP saw this as a crunch match between two of the top contenders, and he was on his best behaviour in the show. In fact I have to pay tribute to the way he rushed Magdalen through their last set of bonuses to get the last starter in – anyone who says he is automatically biased towards Oxford and Cambridge should understand that on reflection this may well have cost Magdalen the match.
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
Insects take their name from the fact that their species are divided into classes – in – sects see ?