Tuesday, 27 September 2011

University Challenge - Round One - Match 13

St. Anne’s Oxford v. Pembroke, Cambridge

Yes, it’s another Oxbridge match – and that often provides us with some good entertainment, doesn’t it. Last night St. Anne’s Oxford and Pembroke, Cambridge entered the lists. I may be wrong, but I think that I read that Clive James once lost Pembroke a UC match on a tie break – he certainly played in the series in the mid-60s. Still, enough of such things. St. Anne’s, which was a single sex establishment until the late 70s, was represented by Eve Phillips, Rachel Duffy, Oliver Moody and captain Robin McGhee. The Pembroke team consisted of Edward Bankes, Ben Pugh, Imogen Gold and their captain Bibek Mukherjee. On with the show.

Oliver Moody struck first for St. Anne’s. He knew his minor counties when he heard them. They didn’t manage to capitalize by taking any of a set of bonuses on Van Gogh – regular quizzers may have noted the old chestnut about the Red Vineyard rearing its hoary head among them. Not for the last time in the show Ben Pugh struck the buzzer quickly for the next starter, knowing that the Queen Mother ( Gawd Bless ‘ Er ) amongst others achieved the feat of becoming centenarians. 2 bonuses were taken on a set labeled ‘multi-tasking’. Imogen Gold buzzed in quickly on a starter about the Ministry of Defence and UFO sightings, and for the second time in a row Pembroke took 2 out of 3 bonuses, this time on deaths in the novels of E.M. Forster.St. Anne’s were a little unlucky with the next. Asked what is combined with Keiselghur to make dynamite, they buzzed in with ‘glycerin’ in a classic – close but not cigar moment, and thereby lost 5. Given the full question Ben Pugh supplied the correct answer – nitroglycerine. 1 bonus followed on William Henry Bragg. Ben Pugh followed this up with the picture starter. This showed us the makeup of a cabinet table with only the PMs name missing. Seeing the name William Whitelaw St. Anne’s twitched first and went with Margaret Thatcher. Ben Pugh knew it was Edward Heath. More of the same followed in the bonuses. Oliver Moody – for whom things were going to start looking up very shortly buzzed in too early with the name Nicodemus, when really he meant Nostradamus. Edward Bankes had it, although Pembroke failed to capitalize on this with any of the bonuses on islands and archipelagos. At the ten minute mark Pembroke had established a very significant lead, of 90 to 5.

Had St. Anne’s shrunk into their shells at this stage it would have been understandable. However Oliver Moody buzzed straight back, knowing that Carol Anne Duffy combined the name of Achilles with David Beckham. A full set of 3 impressive bonuses on anachronisms in Shakespeare helped as well. Pembroke, perhaps momentarily rattled, didn’t know that “The Moon and Sixpence” is based on the life of Gauguin. Oliver Moody did. Again, a full set of 3 bonuses on silver anniversaries followed. It was time for someone to steady the ship on the Pembroke bench, and captain Bibek Mukherjee stepped in. He knew that the caribou was the north American member of the reindeer family, and this brought up a bonus on magnesium. The music starter caused some amusement when a stunningly quick buzz from Ben Pugh identified the timeless classic “Sound of the Underground “ by Girls Aloud. This brought up 3 songs which mention London Underground stations. Which is another little irony when you think of what I said about last Thursday’s handout at the rugby club. They had to give both station and line. I identified Warwick Avenue and Bakerloo line. That was the only station any of us knew, but Pembroke didn’t have the line. Tough set. Still. Ben Pugh was back in the groove, and took the next starter correctly identifying Florence Nightingale’s sister. A single bonus was managed on Holyrood House. A rarely seen starter treble was completed by the impressive Mr. Pugh when he identified that if Mercury was Hydrogen, then Mars would be Beryllium. Alright – not the most tricky, but try beating the other team to the buzzer to get it, because that , my friends, is the name of the game in UC. A set on Booker prize winning novels showed the team a clean pair of heels. Neither team knew that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. Ben Pugh got close with the Stars and Stripes, but no cigar, I’m afraid. A nice starter followed, literally, with an African river and a French city with only one letter’s difference in their names required, Nile and Nice. See what I did there ? Alright, please yourselves. Oliver Moody took it, and this brought up one bonus on environmental agencies. So St. Anne’s had actually outscored Pembroke during this second stage of the contest, but still trailed by 75 to 145.

I’d almost have said that JP had been down the bookies to put a few bob on both of these teams getting through, such was the mighty gallop he stirred himself to for this last part of the contest. He was going like the clappers ! The second picture starter showed a Mayan stele, and Oliver Moody knew what it was. St. Anne’s took two bonuses on other stelae. Ben Pugh struck again , on Louis Pasteur, and for once Pembroke managed a full set of bonuses on mononyms – e.g. – Voltaire and Collette. Skipper Robin McGhee played a captain’s innings by taking the next starter for St. Anne’s, knowing that Queen Victoria’s daughter Victoria was crown princess of the German empire. The team couldn’t take a bonus on shrouds. Bibek Mukherjee showed that anything his opposing skipper could do, so could he, by buzzing in to say that the Cretaceous period comes after the Jurassic. Quite so. One bonus was taken on the King James bonus. Game effectively over, but St. Anne’s still looked just about capable of making a run at a repechage place. Oliver Moody stepped up, he knew that Grayson Perry has an alter ego called Claire. 1 bonus on terms which are a bit like ebullience but have something to do with Science stuff followed. Imogen Gold buzzed in for Pembroke for the next starter on electricity, and the team was happy to take 2 bonuses on philosophical movements. Not giving up yet eve Phillips took the next s=for St. Anne’s , a good question, knowing that two and owt are anagrams of each other. 2 bonuses followed on Hot Spots. Robin McGhee knew what the lowest point on the surface of Mars is, but there was no time for a bonus. At the gong, Pembroke had won with 205, and St. Anne’s had finished with 140.

As JP said, they are really on the cusp, and you wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be good enough. However , that score was almost totally achieved in the last 17 minutes or so. Oliver Moody was particularly impressive. Even more impressive, though was Ben Pugh, whose buzzer work was terrific. Well played Pembroke.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Really only one thing of note at all. JP couldn’t help laughing at the speed of Ben Pugh’s response to the first half note of the Girls Aloud song, and when he’d recovered himself he added,
“It’s a little undignified to be so keen to show that sort of knowledge !” Well, maybe. Now – I like dignity. I like winning too. But which is better ? There’s only one way to find out . . .

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

The decision to go ahead with the Channel Tunnel project was authorized through the Treaty Of Canterbury.


Jack said...

Not sure what to make of that match. Not that spectacular, but both teams put up a respectable performance.

As you've said, Mr Pugh (7 starters) and Mr Moody (6) were both very impressive. St Anne's made 11/27 bonuses with one penalty, while Pembroke managed 17/36.

So, looks like we won't be seeing Edinburgh again, but St Andrews will make it back. Will St Anne's join them? Most likely; we'll find out next week, as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, making its debut on the show, take on Nottingham.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Yes, respectable without being stratospheric. But then hasn't that been true of many of the teams so far this year ? I haven't done the comparison between the teams' performances, but I'll be having a look at that after next week's show, and we'll see how we're looking.

Des Elmes said...

For me, it was Ben Pugh's buzzer work that ultimately made the difference between the sides.

St Anne's, though, deserve credit for not giving in - they probably wouldn't have made the repechage board otherwise.

Will they still be on it at 8:30 next Monday night, however? The last time 140 would have been a good enough score was in 2005/6...

But it does indeed mean that Edinburgh won't be back - and thus they become just the second team in the Paxman Era, after Hull in 2008/9, to lose the opening match of a series and not make the repechage...

As Noel Edmonds might say on DOND, it's an exclusive club.

Londinius said...

Hi Des

Thanks for the info on that. With regards to Ben Pugh, there was a lovely vignette later on in the show when he slammed the buzzer only to be just beaten by one of the St. Anne's team. How much better might St. Anne's do against a team without a buzzer demon like him ? And how much better might he do against a team that doesn't have an Oliver Moody in it ? It will be interesting to find out.

Jack said...

Ugh, they've done it again!

The Radio Times has published the fixture for the match a week on Monday (10 October), and have inadvertantly given away the result of next week's match and whether St Anne's make it back or not!

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

I know that the production team of UC are very keen that spoilers are not given away about any of the shows. I also know that some of them read LAM - so I hope that they'll take note of your comment, and have word in the ear of someone who might be able to do something about this .