Tuesday, 15 March 2011

University Challenge - Quarter Final Play Off

Final Quarter final match – Oxford Brookes v. York

The tension was almost unbearable. You see, I didn’t really want either of these teams to lose. Yes, I tipped Oxford Brookes, and I did really want them to win. But you can’t watch a supposed underdog team like York scrapping it out, and getting good results like their last one, without feeling an admiration for them. For the record , OB, once again represented by Sara Johnson, Austin Sherlaw-Johnson, Richard Williams and captain Anthony McLarin beat Christ’s but lost to Sheffield earlier in the quarters.York, represented by Chris Caudwell, Ben Keane, Simon Donnelly and captain Andrew Clemo lost to Peterhouse then beat Bristol.

Andrew Clemo took an exceptionally first starter to get George Orwell just from the fact that he was born in Bengal. They took a full set of bonuses on quotations. Sara Johnson of Oxford Brookes took an equally good quick buzz on a definition of a vuvuzela. They too took the full set of their bonuses on the feat of swimming the Hellespont. This already had the makings of a fine match. Ben Keane of York took the next starter on the matrix. For once they only took two bonuses, this time on Tony Benn . Andrew Clemo took the fourth starter, identifying the island of Rhum. Mathematical problems proved to be just that – problems, as they only managed one of them. Thence to the first picture starter. Anthony McLarin couldn’t identify that the nations shown on a map were the biggest producers of gold in the world, wrongly opting for uranium. Andrew Clemo had it though. More of the same, with other commodities followed, and York were happy to take the first two. Was it my imagination, or were York beginning to build up a useful head of steam ? It looked like it when Andrew Clemo took the next starter recognising various uses of the word caustic. A good shout that one. The team built on the good work by taking 2 bonuses Nobel prize for economics. Austin Sherlaw – Johnson stopped the rot by taking the next one on the obituary of the late Alan Sillitoe. A set of bonuses on personality disorders helped narrow the gap as well, when they managed to answer the second. Still, York had certainly carved out a healthy lead by the end of the first ten minutes, leading by 100 to 40.

There was a terrific question on the next starter, asking about the largest countries in Africa, 4 of which are all contiguous with the largest – Sudan. Democratic republic of Congo was given, and OB correctly offered Libya, but incorrectly offered Egypt as well. Hard lines. Andrew Clemo knew that Algeria would do the trick. This earned a set on astronomy. Which didn’t do them a lot of good as they didn’t manage any of them. Neither did I. A question on geometry followed, which I’d lost the point of before JP even finished the question. Neither team managed it. Still , Ben Keane took the next for York, knowing that Klaipeda is to be found in Lithuania. Philosophers and philosophy condounded them – off the point I know , but I was pleased with myself for knowing that Zeno founded the Stoics – although where the name came from I didn’t know – more about that later. Now, you know me, when one team seems as much in control as York did at this point, but fails to convert the majority of the bonuses then I start to get a little anxious for them. They were winning the buzzer race, but not pulling away with any great haste yet. The music starter on national anthems followed – both belonged to the teams taking part in a FIFA world cup final. The first was obviously Italy. The second was France so it was obviously 2006, as Richard Williams buzzed in extremely swiftly to say. More of the same followed. They managed 2 more. Neither team could explain the acronym BOD. An early buzz from Chris Caudwell lost 5 points, while Sara Johnson took the starter knowing that the member of the heron family required was the egret. A set of bonuses on kings of France were taken in full. The fightback, so it seemed, was on. Austin Sherlaw- Johnson duly took the next starter, and no bonuses were taken on things to do with the word place. I thought Simon Donnelly’s identification of Rene Descartes on the next picture starter was excellent, and just the sort of thing you need to do when the opposition is coming back at you. As you might expect three more paintings of French mathematicians followed, of which they took all 3. Still, York could reflect on the opportunities they hadn’t quite taken in this round, as the gap had actually shrunk to 40 points by the 20 minute mark, as they led by 135 to 95.

I just scented the hint of maybe a grandstand finish coming. Sara Johnson took the next starter on the word mental – much to the noisy delight of the OB fans. 2 bonuses were taken on Sicily. A mathematical starter passed both teams by. OB’s Richard Williams knew that a misdemeanour is less than a felony. A set of bonuses on painters followed, and they took 2. Suddenly they were only 5 points behind. Neither team knew Perkin Warbeck. Sara Johnson knew a set of locations of Shakespeare plays. The prefix – dis – brought a full set of bonuses, and now OB were ahead. Simon Donnelly took the next bonus on the element tellurium. Good quick buzz that. More of the same followed as bonuses, of which they managed 2. Andrew Clemo buzzed in too early on the next , but neither team knew the dynasties of Byzantium. Austin Sherlaw-Johnson knew a series of people who played the clarinet. There was one particularly noisy OB fan who insisted on bellowing “Come on !” every time his team took a starter. You never used to get this sort of thing in Bamber’s day. 1 bonus was taken on the Cyrillic alphabet. Andrew Clemo took the next, identifying a description of an organ. A set of – ite words followed, and they took all of them, and the lead. They kept it in the next starter, as Andrew Clemo knew a question about Brazil when he heard it. 2 bonuses on hills followed, and a lead of 25 seperated the teams. A great starter linking personal qualities in titles of novels by Wolfe and Thackeray – vanity – was taken by Sara Johnson. Bonuses on names of dyes followed – they took one, but were still behind. Simon Donnelly gave away five by buzzing too early on the next - but a five point lead remained. . . and the gong sounded ! York won by 195 to 190.

I feel physically drained. I’m really sorry that I gave you the kiss of death by tipping you, Oxford Brookes. All I can say is that you have played very well all series, and would not have been out of place amongst the semi finalists. But very well done to York too. You’re a fine and gutsy team, and deserve your success.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When the anthems of West Germany and England were played , and OB correctly identified this as the 1966 world cup final, JP chortled – “Difficult, wasn’t it ? “
When Andrew Clemo wrongly offered Walter Simnel instead of Perkin Warbeck , JP made a point of coming back after he’d offered it to OB, and reminding him that ‘He’s normally known as LAMBERT Simnel !”
Finally the purists will have enjoyed the way he delivered a great backhanded compliment to York – “Well done York – even if you were struck mute at the end there. “

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

Stoicisim takes its name from the greek word for the porch under which the philosophers in question used to meet .


Jack said...

Wow, that was a fine match. One of the best of the semis. Not as good as Sheffield vs Magdalen, but still a great match.

I said last time that it would be a shame if OB didn't make the semis. And now they haven't, it is a shame. But they have certainly done very well to get this far anyway. Sarah Johnson finishes the series their best player with twenty-two starters (excluding the tie-break).

As for York, I think they are the surprise packages of the semis, as I'm sure many will have written them off after getting trounced by Peterhouse. For the record, Andrew Clemo got seven starters, and his series total is now thirty-two!

However, I should point out that the George Orwell question is actually a repeat question from York's first match (they let the opposition get it). So, one wonders if Mr Clemo remembered that question!

So, if you want my opinion, we should be in for some brilliant matches in the semis and the final. I'll save my guesses until you preview them (if you do).

Des Elmes said...

Well, I said this match would be a tough one to call, and so it proved - but I don't think I expected it to be that dramatic.

It was actually remarkably similar to Manchester v Edinburgh just over a year ago. Just like Edinburgh, Oxford Brookes got off to a slow start, but came right back and would have won by five had the contestant who had got a tie-breaker in an earlier match got the last starter right...

The only real difference is that the gong didn't go before Sarah Johnson got her guess in, unlike with Andrew Matheson.

So, by the narrowest of margins, Brookes miss out on becoming the second 1992 university to reach the semi-finals - Paxo seems to have forgotten about London Metropolitan in 2003/4 being the first, going by his words of consolation.

Hard, hard luck OB - but, at the same time, very well done and thank you, too. Not only did you play very well all series, but you gave us some cracking matches along the way - particularly this one and against Cardiff in the first round.

And, of course, many congratulations to York. I have to agree entirely with Jack about them being surprise packages - but they certainly are not undeserving of their semi-final place. Especially when Andrew Clemo has been so impressive since that defeat to Peterhouse - and indeed, it's now his turn to lead in the race to be the series' best buzzer.

I'll sign off here with the rest of the stats from this match: York answered 20/33 bonuses correctly with three penalties, Brookes 18/30.

Des Elmes said...

And now, on to the semis.

As we already know, it's the first time since 2003/4 that there's no sign of Manchester in them.

Cast your mind that far back: George W Bush was still to get a second term, the Dandy comic was yet to undergo the first of seemingly many relaunches (well, three), and KT Tunstall - one of my very favourite singers - was still unheard of.

In the game show world, Richard Whiteley was still alive, Pat Gibson had not yet won Millionaire, late nights were still to be polluted by tacky phone-in quizzes - and University Challenge was still using a bright orange set.

Just goes to show that an awful lot happens in seven years...

Anyway, the line-up has been confirmed, and it'll no doubt please pretty much everyone: Sheffield take on York next Monday, Peterhouse play Magdalen the following week.

So that Sheffield v Magdalen dream final is still very much on - but one certainly does not expect either of these two matches to be one-sided. (As long as there are no conspicuous spoilers, that is...)

York have played one match more than Tris, Hugh, Andy and Tom, of course - and if Clemo keeps up the form he showed against Bristol and Brookes, it could well go down to the wire. But then, when that occurs, Sheffield are very good at keeping their heads... ;)

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Peterhouse v Magdalen turned into a battle on the buzzers between Ben Slingo and Will Cudmore - and, again, it's very likely that the outcome will be in doubt until the very end. But Cudmore does have excellent back-up in Haddad-Fonda and McComish...

We ought to be in for a cracking fortnight!

Andrew B. said...

I think the question about African countries stated that they form a connected set, not they they're all contiguous with Sudan (Algeria isn't)

viking_oneil said...

If Oxford Brookes had won that match, I'm not at all sure how the show would have decided to arrange the semi-final pairings...

William Barrett said...

The five African countries are contiguous in the same way we talk about the 48 contiguous states of the USA. You can go from DRC to Sudan to Chad to Libya to Algeria without crossing any other countries.

doublemm said...

Well, they saved the second best til last! Clemo was certainly on fire, taking full advantage of incorrect buzzes from the Brookes side.

I'm still, as a viewer, totally behind the current QF format.

As for Manchester, I have no doubt that their team would have done very well had they been accepted last year. ;)

Londinius said...

Hi everyone, and thanks for your comments

Thanks for defending me, William ! I only put down contiguous because I believed that was the way that the question was worded - apologies if that caused any confusion.

As regards the format - well , this format means you get 6 more matches than the old one, so I'm all for it.


Andrew B. said...

For what it's worth (not much, I hear you cry), the precise wording was: "The five African countries with the largest land area are contiguous. Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are two; for 10 points name two of the other three."

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