Wednesday, 3 August 2011

UC Flag Controversy

I awoke this morning, ate my bowl of cornflakes, and opened the Telegraph to begin the daily trawl for questions. On page 3 a large photo of the 2 teams from Monday's UC match stared back at me.

This is the problem. When shown a flag for the first picture starter, Thomas Grinyer answered that it belonged to the thirteen colonies of America, to be told that he was wrong. When Balliol also answered incorrectly the answer was given as The East India Company. Now, the flag in questions certainly did belong to the East India Company. However, according to the experts quoted in the Telegraph, it was also exactly the same as the flag used by the thirteen colonies.

Now, we all make mistakes from time to time. However this one makes it really interesting. Here are the issues of the case : -

* Balliol beat Homerton by 5 points
* That starter alone was worth 10 points, not counting a set of bonuses which may or may not have provided up to 15 more.
* As it is, Homerton will surely qualify for a highest runner up spot.
* Runners up have to play an extra match in the repechage round.

So even if you say - well - it doesn't matter, since Homerton are going through any way, well, yes, to some extent it still does matter since they are by no means guaranteed a spot in the second round. They may be beaten in the repechage. On the other hand, can you penalise Balliol for the programme's mistake ? Not really.

So my guess is that the production team will hold their hands up, say - sorry, we got it wrong, these things do happen occasionally, but the result will stand - and keep their fingers crossed that Balliol will make it through the repechage.

Watch this space


radinden said...

Some might say that this is justice for Balliol about a decade too late. Let me explain...

Back in the 1998-9 series, I think it was, Balliol lost a squeaker of a first round match by 5 points to Durham (200-195). In the course of the match, however, they were asked (I paraphrase, I think) "which country borders Latvia and Lithuania?". The answer sought by Paxo was Belarus, which is of course accurate. The answer given by Balliol was Russia, which is of course also accurate, as Russia Kaliningrad enclave borders Lithuania.

It ended up with Paxo having to apologise on-air in a later show, but Balliol nonetheless being dumped into the repechage (newly and therefore rather inauspiciously launched that season). Although they beat City University handsomely in the repechage, Balliol would fall to Birkbeck in the second round while Durham whipped a sorry Glasgow team on their way to the semi-finals. According to the Balliol team at the time, it would all have been different if it hadn't been for Kaliningrad (I paraphrase again), and they might actually have managed to get a UC title to go with their pile of Oxford Inter-Collegiate titles.

Jack said...

Well, even University Challenge makes the occasional mistake Dave. Fox example, the Richard III question from Sheffield's first match last year, which you picked up on. This error seems to have been mistakenly repeated in the UC quiz book.

And let's not even mention the Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen controversy on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

HughTube said...

If I were Homerton I'd have also protested 'Primate' not being accepted for 'Monkey'. In fact I answered 'Monkey' and then corrected myself.

Platyrrhine or flat-nosed from the New World and Catarrhine or downward-nosed from the Old World are the two sub-groups of which animals?

Catarrhini contains the Apes as well as the Old World Monkeys so really the answer 'monkeys' can't be right as monkeys are paraphyletic.

I suppose the correct answer has to be 'Simian' or 'Anthropoid' as there are many other subgroups of primate.

Ian said...

Well the question refers to the "organisation the flag represents", so the East India Company answer fits better with the wording. At least that's what I would argue if I was the QM!!

I agree it's all a bit unsatisfactory, but as a quizzer this sort of thing is an occupational hazard.

Londinius said...

Hi Everyone

- and thanks for your views. radinden - thanks for the explanation about that - it kind of highlights what I was trying to get at about the way that this kind of luck can affect your chances.

And I do agree that it is just a case of bad luck, and certainly as Jack says UC make relatively few errors. That's whay we make such a thing about it when it happens - its kind of a backhanded compliment when you look at it like that.

Hugh, I too noticed the primates/monkesy question, but I did wonder if it meant that this term only really applied to monkeys, and not other primates. Going by your post that's not the case.I have to bow to your superior knowledge on that.

Oh well, what's life without a little controversy now and again ? !

Phil said...

Hmm...Much as I hate to have to use Wikipedia as a source, this has a few pictures of the "Thirteen colonies" flag, also known as the Grand Union Flag:

It seems that it is extremely similar to the British East India Company's, but differs in the positioning of the Union Flag - the stripe underneath is white for the Grand Union Flag, but red for the BEIC's. Other examples seem to back this up.

Still, they are very nearly identical, so Grinyer was right to give it a shot. It seems the researcher is off the hook, despite possibly not even knowing a similar flag existed!

joe said...

Speaking of national controversies; you may perhaps have heard that in The Bell quiz in Chichester last Sunday there was an argument over a loosely worded question. Name three countries whose names in English start with the letter 'F'.

The required answer was Fiji, France and Finland. But my partner sparked a rumpus when he included French Guiana and the QM ruled it out ('because the answers were in The Readers Digest and FG wasn't listed').

Yes, FG is strictly an overseas Department of France, and not self governing, but to all intents and purposes, it's a 'country', he replied. It uses the Euro, but it has its own capital, Cayenne, for example.

The QM refused to discuss the matter and we missed out on the tie-break place!

redarsedbaboon said...

To all intents and purposes apart from the not being self-governing bit. I'm with the QM here.

davidbod said...

@joe, if you go by the UN list (as Pointless does, for instance), then French Guiana doesn't count.

Radge said...

Phil - you don't even need to use Wikipedia as a source. Google/Bing/Yahoo image search _all_ show the Grand Union Flag as having the Union Flag in a square at the top left, 7 stripes deep, as here:

The flag shown on UC (as seen on the Telegraph article) has a rectangular Union Flag, six stripes deep - it is definitively _not_ the Grand Union flag, so the answer as given was wrong.

Londinius said...

Totally off the point, Joe, but my mother has recently moved to Durrington, and I'm visiting at the moment, and will doubtless do so on a fairly regular basis. D you know any good quizzes in the Worthing / Arundel area - or is that a little too far from Chichester ?



joe said...

Best I know of is the monthly one on the first Friday of the month in the Arun Leisure Centre, Bognor Regis.

It's actually on tonight at 7.30p.m. I play in the Dark Horses team.

Jack said...

Well, it looks like Weaver's Week have managed to solve this problem now.

In this week's article, they claim to have checked the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which states that the flag in question was used for the Thirteen colonies, but it was not the official flag; the first official flag of the the Thirteen colonies was the Stars and Stripes.

So, basically, what Weaver has said is that the question should either have been better phrased, or simply not asked altogether in the first place.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Yes, I saw Weaver's Week yesterday. In hindsight yes, it might well have been better to have avoided the question, but its just one of those things that can happen - you can tell how rare it is for something like this to happen on UC by the amount of comment that it has generated.