Queen’s University Belfast v. University of Newcastle
Queen’s, the first university in Northern Ireland, entered this year, so said JP, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of their championship win. The team consisted of Niall McDonald, Joshua Greenwood, Ronan Kernan, and captain Thomas Haverty.
Newcastle were formerly the federal arm of the University of Durham, up until 1963 unless I misheard. They were represented by Ben Dunbar, Ross Dent, Nicholas Pang, and captain Eleanor Turner.
Neither team fancied diving straight in on the first starter, where a list of possible meanings for a word were given, and the one word which fit all of them was asked for. Eventually Ronan Kernan buzzed in with – open, and Queen’s were off and running. Two bonuses followed on alma mater. Ronan Kernan then buzzed in early on the next starter – he knew that the country being referred to was South Korea, but JP had asked for the capital city – a fact which Ben Dunbar gratefully acknowledged when he buzzed in to take the pints for Seoul. 1 bonus on naval bases was taken. A definition of a letter from Johnson’s dictionary followed – Eleanor Turner knew it had to be – h. This was then followed by the first picture starter, a nice idea, which showed a route taken by a famous explorer. Ronan Kernan ventured Cook, but Nicholas Pang knew that it was Magellan. No doubt about it, even at this early stage Newcastle were edging ahead. The team managed two of the bonuses, which were more of the same, only missing out on Batholemew Dias. Neither team fancied notation for algebra, so it was left to skipper Thomas Haverty to take the next starter by knowing that the equation V=H0D refers to Hubble’s Equation. Fair enough. 1 bonus on the art world in 1911 brought the scores at the ten minute mark to 30 for Queen’s as opposed to 50 for Newcastle.
Nicholas Pang took the next starter with a good early buzz. He knew that Salman Rushdie et al were exponents of magic realism. 2 bonuses on astronomy followed. A rare starter mistake from Newcastle followed, as definitions of several words which could end with the same scrabble letter were given. Ross Dent couldn’t quite get it, but Ronan Kernan could see that it was Q. This brought up a great set of bonuses on poetry. For each bonus, a set of words from a particular poem would be given in the order in which they appeared. They all escaped Queen’s, who didn’t escape the wrath of Paxman. More on this later. Nicholas Pang recognized the subtitle of ‘Small is Beautiful’ for the next starter, which brought up a set of bonuses on cheesemaking. Well, blessed are the cheesemakers, after all. Then the music starter – on the Eurovision Song Contest. Can open – worms all over the floor. More about JP’s reaction to that later on as well. Neither team took the starter on offer, but when Nicholas Pang took the next on bier/beer, this brought up the bonuses on the Eurovision. Much to JP’s delight none of these were taken. A great early buzz from skipper Eleanor Turner took the next starter- she knew that the surname linking Tescos and Ben and Jerry’s is Cohen. 2 bonuses followed on Russian writers and duels. Neither team knew Manon Lescaut for the next starter, but Joshua Greenwood of Queen’s knew that the sister who egged on Orestes to avenge their father’s death was Electra. 2 bonuses followed on chemistry. So at the 20 minute mark the score now stood at 60 to Queen’s, and 120 to Newcastle.
A 60 point gap is not all that huge, believe it or not, if a team is on song. However in all honesty it really didn’t look at all likely that Queen’s could pull back. Still, Ronan Kernan gave it a bash by correctly identifying a painting of a scene from “Romeo and Juliet”. They couldn’t take any of the bonuses, though, which were admittedly pretty tough, I thought. Ben Dunbar pulled out the lead again when he correctly identified an eye condition as astigmatism. I got that starter too, but since I have astigmatism myself it’s hardly surprising. A wonderful set of UC specials followed on American states. They worked like this. JP gave 2 cities – example Denver and Chicago. The team had to take the abbreviations for the states where these cities are found – Colorado (CO ) and Illinois (IL ) and combine them to make a word – coil. Got it ? Newcastle did – they got 2 out of the 3, and were very much warmed to their task by this stage of the competition. Eleanor Turner kept up the good work by explaining that Fianchetto in chess involves moving a bishop. A full set of bonuses on origins of sporting organisations was gratefully snapped up by Ben Dunbar. Who then went on to identify the petri dish as the correct answer to the next starter. 2 bonuses were taken where the team had to identify the start of which century saw a set of particular monarchs on the throne of their respective country. Ben Dunbar then made it a double by identifying Venezuela for the next starter. A good set were taken on European languages, with I thought a brilliant shout by Nicholas Pang on the second question which called for him to identify Armenian. No better than Eleanor Turner’s answer for the next starter, where she correctly identified that whatever it was JP was talking about, it would put out 36 amps. A good full set followed on terms which begin with chloro - . Neither Ben Dunbar nor Joshua Greenwood could identify that the only English pope and the Sailor King and Ivan the Terrible both shared the regnal number 4th ( Adrian IV – William IV – Ivan IV). So, to bring the contest to a conclusion Ronan Kernan identified a film with characters called Man and Boy as The Road. Only time enough remained for two bonuses on volcanic islands. At the gong the final score was Newcastle 235 – Queen’s 85.
Hard lines Queen’s. You sensed that they were rather better than the score suggests – certainly based on some of their bonus answers, but their buzzer work was found wanting last night. As for Newcastle, they are a good team, a team which is probably greater than the sum of their parts. Unless I’m mistaken 3 of the 4 team members all managed 4 starters. How far they will go , well, that remains to be seen. But well done !
Jeremy Paxman Watch
Ah, the main man is back on form ! Joshua Greenwood dared to offer a hopeful answer of The Rape of The Lock to one of the poetry bonuses. “How on earth did you get that !?” scoffed JP, the correct answer being Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard. He does so hate it when they get a literature question wrong.
Then we had the Eurovision questions. The producers must have just put these in to get a reaction from him, because he’s been far too nice so far this series. When Newcastle gave an incorrect answer he turned to Queen’s with,
“You can’t want to hear any more. “ as in – I don’t care if you want to , because I’m not going to let you hear any more. Then when Queen’s failed to give a correct answer, he sighed,
“There’s more of this rubbish coming up .” knowing that the set of Eurovision bonuses would carry over. A funny comment when we heard the classic “Take Me To Your Heaven” by the rather lovely Charlotte Nilsson, and Newcastle plumped for Sweden in the 70s, was
“No, it was Sweden in the 90s. Time stood still in Sweden a long time. “
As it was Newcastle failed to get any of them right, a fact which was greatly approved of by JP, who purred “There’s no shame in getting these wrong , by the way. “ I propose that JP should be asked if he’d like to chair a celebrity edition of “A Question of the Eurovision Song Contest” for Children in Need next year, and his reaction to the question should be filmed.
I rather like the Eurovision myself, but I digress.
Interesting Fact Of The Week That I Didn’t Already Know
Big Ben – the bell within the clock tower – was cracked in 1862, and following its repair it doesn’t sound ‘e’ properly.