Tuesday, 22 March 2011

University Challenge - Semi Final 1

Semi Final 1 – Sheffield v. York

Well , a match to savour this. All-conquering Sheffield , the team of all talents, v. battle hardened warriors York. No prizes for guessing that all the support from the Clark sofa was for Sheffield. This is not to say that I have no admiration for York at all, their performances in their second two matches in the quarters were inspirational. York, the come back kids, were represented by Chris Caudwell, Ben Keane, Simon Donnelly and captain Andrew Clemo. As for Sheffield, they maintained the usual team of Andy Bolton, our own Tristan Cole and Hugh Bennett, and captain Tom Thirkell

Well, away we went. Andrew Clemo started where he left off in the quarters when he knew that Bismarck and Raleigh were linked by being capitals of states with the word North in their names. A set of bonuses on quotes saw them take two. Chris Caudwell took York’s second starter on the Electra complex. Faced with a set of bonuses on british prime ministers, they stretched their lead to 45. Neither team quite knew Luther’s 95 theses. Tris Cole took Sheffield’s first starter on Roland Barthes. Bonuses on truth followed, and they took 2. Andrew Clemo knew the poem Invictus to reassert York’s ascendancy. A set of physics bonuses proved rather tricky , as they only managed one of them. This brought up the picture starter. Andrew Clemo recognised the Nobel Peace Prize medal, which brought up three more of the same. None of them proved gettable. Andy Bolton knew that the Triassic preceded the Jurassic. A series of bonuses on composers followed, and Sheffield managed 2 of them. Andrew Clemo buzzed too early on dutch cities for the next, but Sheffield couldn’t capitalise. Chris Caudwell knew the graphic novel Maus , and a couple of bonuses on French artists added to the score. So at the ten minute mark it certainly hadn’t all been one way traffic, but it was definitely advantage York, as they led by 90 – 40.

We’ve seen York get off the blocks quickly before, but sometimes , like last week, they have let the opposition find their way back into the contest. This wasn’t going to happen if Andrew Clemo had anything to do with it. He knew Donatello’s David, to bring up bonuses on comparative biology. One fell to them. Andy Bolton buzzed in too quickly on the next , and it was Ben Keane who correctly identified the word synod. A good UC set of bonuses followed on pairs of homonyms. Again, York didn’t really hammer home their advantage, but kept the score ticking away, and the gap widening. The first music starter followed, and our own Hugh had it within a couple of bars. More bonuses on string quintets followed, but they could only take one of them. Tris continued taking the fight to York by buzzing in early to identify The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Bonuses on US presidents followed, and they took one of them. Hugh then took the next , an old Mathematical chestnut. A set of tricky bonuses on stage works about birds followed. Hugh nipped in again for the next starter on the Zapatistas. No doubt about it, the boys were getting into their stride. A set of bonuses on elements followed. The gap narrowed to just 15 points, and at this stage, roughly halfway through the contest, it was anybody’s game. Chris Caudwell took a good one for York, knowing that you get chickpeas in falafel. The bonuses on the 1660s proved a bit of a godsend as they took all of them. Hugh knew that Picasso was born in Malaga. Bonuses on poets and astronomers followed, and they managed one of them. Simon Donnelly took the second picture starter, knowing if it’s a bloke with a bowler with an apple in front of his bonce, its a Magritte. ( You never get this sort of detail from Brian Sewell ! ) Picture bonuses stretched the lead to 40 points at the 20 minute mark , as they led by 160 to 120.

So it was still too close to call. If my boys could all keep buzzing in as they had done for the last ten minutes they could still do it. But a barnstorming 5 minutes from York could settle the match for good. Big hitting Chris Caudwell took a vital starter on Bill Hicks. A set of bonuses on capital cities proved extremely tricky , and York managed none of them. Inspirational leader Andrew Clemo knew that CCS means carbon capture and storage. Bonuses on US foreign policy all helped them increase their lead as they took all 3. A great early buzz from Tristan Cole identified original sin. Bonuses on latin grammar weren’t all that helpful to Sheffield at this stage. Tris went for a hit and hope on the next starter, on a dartboard. He was on the right lines, but needed the whole question. With the benefit of this, Andrew Clemo knew that 12 o’clock would be 20. A bonus on wine put York almost out of sight. Chris Caudwell took the next geographical starter, and York were home and dry. Andy Bolton managed the next start on the word appal , and this brought bonuses on African countries. However all this meant was that Andrew Clemo knew Germinal in the French revolutionary calendar for the next starter. Tris took the last starter, knowing that the Borough of Queens’ takes its name from Katherine of Braganza.

JP put my back up a little bit when he told my boys from Sheffield “Well, you didn’t play particularly well, you’ve played much better than that in the past. “ Come on Jezza. Play fair ! You play as well as you’re allowed to play. York have got better and better with each match, and Messrs Clemo and Caudwell in particular played a blinder. On the whole they were just that little bit too quick. When you’re meeting a good opponent who hits top form there is absolutely nothing you can do about it except applaud. Hugh, Tris, Andy and Tom, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You have been one of the teams of the tournament, and have put on some really memorable performances this year.

York – the momentum is with you ! Best of luck for the final.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Well, until that last comment to Sheffield, I was quite enjoying JP in this show. I liked the way that he replied chuckling to Hugh on the arithmetic – 5 robots question – “Don’t look so surprised just because it was easy !” Mind you I should have guessed the mood he was working up to with his correction of a perfectly good pronunciation of the river Vltava with
“Yes – the V - ltava I call it but I’m sure it’s the same place. “

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

Like Picasso , Antonio Banderas was born in Malaga.


Jack said...

Wow, that's a stunner! Definately the shock of the season.

York must go down as one of the biggest surprise packages in UC history, three times overcoming the odds to emerge triumphant over teams that looked better on paper.

Very well played by Sheffield though. It's been great watching you throughout the whole series chaps. Actually knowing the player does make a difference to the way you watch the show.

For the record, Andrew Clemo got seven, and his total for the series is now a whopping thirty-nine! Hugh and Tris got four each for Sheffield; Tris finishes the series with a total of twenty-seven over five games. York made 23/42 bonuses with one penalty, Sheffield 13/27 with two penalties.

So, can York do it? Maybe, but Magdalen will be tough to beat, and Peterhouse have already beaten them once. Whoever they play, it should be a good final, as should next week's match!

doublemm said...

Well, we can now see that the comment made the other week was not a spoiler! Though I would not have been surprised if it had been - Sheffield were a great team this series and one of my favourites to watch. I particularly enjoyed Andy Bolton's epiphany that the emission of high energy electrons is called beta, not gamma, decay. Well done to all of you.

My guess would be a Magdalen win next week, but a Peterhouse win is entirely possible - they have the science advantage (although you can never rule out Haddad-Fonda on that).

HughTube said...

Thanks Dave and Jack.

Well that was painful to watch. I have to agree with Jeremy Paxman that we weren't as good as we had been. That said I don't want to come across as begrudging, York were too quick for us. What you wouldn't have seen is that I had pressed the buzzer on, I think, seven occasions only to here Roger Tilling say 'York ...'. One of the things I have learned from this experience is that I must have terrible reactions. The other galling thing is that on each of the times we buzzed in with a wrong answer we actually knew the correct one but for some reason were unable to say it.

I should just say well done to York as I know Simon, at least, reads these.

Also thanks for your kind words over the course of the series. I'll keep returning to the blog as the whole experience has dragged me in to the seedy world of quizzing.

Des Elmes said...

Without any disrespect to York or Sheffield, I have to agree with Jack - this is the shock of the series.

I expected that it would be a close match - and that if one team was to win comfortably in the end, it would be Sheffield.

Instead, York led right throughout - and never looked worried, even during Sheffield's brief fightback before the second picture round.

I think it's fair to say that since that defeat to Peterhouse, they have been getting better and better - especially Clemo, who's picked up 23 starters in the last three matches, and all of a sudden has become the favourite in the race to be the best buzzer for the series.

What else can I say? Many, many congratulations York, and the very best of luck in the final!

And hard luck Hugh, Tris, Andy and Tom - but very well done at the same time. Reaching the last four of UC is no mean feat at all. And as with Oxford Brookes last week, thank you, too, for giving us some incredible matches along the way - none more so, of course, than the ones against Magdalen and UCL.

So, to next week, and Magdalen v Peterhouse. I'm still going for Magdalen here, but I agree with doublemm - a Peterhouse win is not beyond possibility. Indeed, as this week's match showed, anything is possible...

As for the final? Well, the Sheffield v Magdalen dream rematch is no longer possible, alas - but whether York play Peterhouse for the second time or the Oxford side, it should still be very good.

joe said...

Sheffield were all mature students, I think, and possibly postgraduates. Whereas York were more youthful and fresher faced (and included undergrads, I presume). Experienced quizzers will always bet on age and guile over quick witted youth! So all credit to York for a great win and to the Illustrious Mr.Clemo for his terrific leadership.

HughTube said...


Tom and I are both undergraduates who started our degrees in our teens.

joe said...



And York?

HughTube said...

According to this they are 34, 30, 21 and 20. So it's not quite as different as you thought.