Saturday, 5 November 2011

University Challenge - Round Two - Match Two

Birmingham v. Newcastle

Birmingham , you may recall, comfortably disposed of Trinity , Cambridge in round one. Again, they were represented by Thomas Farrell, Kirk Surgener, Elliot Rhodes and captain Oliver Jeacock. Their opposition, Newcastle, who comfortably beat Queen’s University , Belfast in Round One were the opposition tonight.Newcastle’s team consisted of Ben Dunbar, Ross Dent, Nicholas Pang and skipper Eleanor Turner.

Newcastle were the fastest out of the blocks. This week’s word with multiple definitions was ‘sponge’, and it was captain Eleanor Turner who won the race to the buzzer. She was going to do a lot more of that as the evening progressed. Bonuses on events of 1797 passed them by. Neither team knew that St. James’ Palace preceded Buck House as the main London residence of the monarch, but the Newcastle skipper knew about a Danish person called Gram. 2 bonuses followed on the bassoon. Ben Dunbar took Newcastle’s third starter , knowing that all the people alluded to by JP were Simpsons. 1 bonus followed on Corinth. Neither team recognized a plaque for the picture starter which accompanied the Pioneer space mission. I’ll be honest, I answered Voyager too – obviously I’m getting Pioneer confused with Star Trek the Motion Picture. I didn’t mark down who took the next starter , but it was a Newcastle player who knew that Somalia had previously been split into British Somaliland, and for the points, Italian Somaliland as well. This earned the bonuses on aspects of the Pioneer plaque, of which none were taken. It was looking ominously like the whole of the first few minutes would be a total shutout. Still Kirk Surgener stopped the rot and took Birmingham’s first points with sublimation on the next starter, bringing up a brace of bonuses on biology. Ten minutes into the show, and Newcastle led by 55 to Birmingham’s 20.

Neither team knew the Hebrew term Levirate. Newcastle took a starter on TS Eliot, and followed it up with 2 bonuses on ‘Pistache’ by UC old boy Sebastian Foulkes. Eleanor Turner knew that Bennis and Gingeleis are also known as sesame seeds. This gave them one bonus on the 17th century. For the music starter neither side recognized a wee snatch of the work of Sir Arthur Sullivan. Thus it fell to Eleanor Turner to supply the answer inertia to the next starter. The music bonuses followed, and they concerned other British composers who were born in the 19th century. They answered Holst to each, and were rewarded when the last one was Neptune from the Planets suite. Ben Dunbar knew that Neoprene is a synthetic form of rubber, and this brought up two bonuses on cities in the state of Ohio. Once again, it was looking like a ten minute shut out. However there was a bit of a swerve on the next question. When given The capital city of Nebraska – Newcastle leapt in early with Lincoln. Incorrect, since the full list were not all named after Lincoln, merely different US presidents, as Birmingham skipper Oliver Jeacock well knew. One bonus on crabs bumped their score up to 35. Still, the Newcastle juggernaut rolled onwards as Ben Dunbar took the next starter, knowing 8 bones in the wrist. A set of bonuses on black and white flags proved a bit tricky, although they did get Brittany’s. At the 20 minute mark Newcastle were comfortably galloping away with 140 to 35.

So, with the game pretty much over, the question was how much would they win by, and how much of a fightback could Birmingham muster ? Well, as it happened they had their best period of the contest. Firstly , Kirk Surgener recognized the work of Bridget Reilly in the second picture starter. However they were unable to take any of the bonuses on other artists. Nicholas Pang knew a set of references to leopard for his first starter of the night. 2 bonuses followed on coups d’etat. Neither team knew that the longest time between UK General Elections in the 20th century was actually 10 years – 1935 – 45. I didn’t either. Eleanor Turner knew that Poirot is a homophone for the French word for a leek – or do I mean a leak ? Anyway, it brought up a set of bonuses on Authors who died in 2010, and Newcastle gobbled the full set up. Well done to Kirk Surgerner for recognizing the definition of a Mobius Strip for the next starter. One bonus on grasses followed. Neither team knew US feminist Betty Freiden. A very good early buzz from Ben Dunbar identified Rio de Janeiro as the first South American city to be awarded an Olympic Games. This unleashed a really tricky set of word bonuses on words which began with the same letters , and ended with ious – for example specious and spurious. That’s the sort of thing youy need a piece of paper, a strong cup of coffee, and ten minutes’ silence to work out – not 10 seconds in a TV studio. Well, I didn’t get any, anyway. Thomas Farrell struck to identify that if the first ten numerals are spelled out backwards, three would head the list alphabetically. Good shout. A couple of bonuses on Michael Foot were taken. Eleanor Turner caused some amusement by correctly answering that iatrogenic conditions were those actually caused by the actions of doctors – goodness me but there were an unusually large crop of candidates for the interesting fact of the week in this show. After bonuses on glands it only remained for Nicholas Pang to apply the coup de grace by taking the last starter, supply9ing the correct answer ‘Little’ just ahead of the buzzer. A comfortable win for Newcastle by 220 to Birmingham’s 80.

Jeremy Paxman Watch.

Little of note this week, although he did say when Brimingham took their third starter “ Some bonus opportunities at last for you guys. “ Maybe its just me, but that’s rubbing it in, isn’t it ?

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

Levirate is the name for the ancient Hebrew custom of marrying a brother in law’s childless widow to ensure that his line does not die out.
( I did actually know about the Mutiny in The Nore – but I was delighted to hear that question asked. My great great great great grandfather William Barney was on HMS Belliqueux which took part in the mutiny. He had been press ganged on New Year’s Day - according to family legend as he was coming out of a pub in Dundee. He was lucky he lived – the mutineers were very violently repressed, many being, as the saying goes, strung up from the highest yardarm in Chatham Dock).


Jack said...

I'm sorry to say this, but this match dragged on a bit for me. Newcastle just spent too long conferring for my liking.

Al that conferring only netted them 17/39 bonuses, though Eleanor Turner managed an impressive six starters. Kirk Surgener led again for Birmingham with three, resulting in 6/15 bonuses. One penalty for the Tynesiders.

I wouldn't quite put Newcastle up there with Clare, Durham and Queen's among the series favourites, but two three figure wins with 200+ scores is still a very respectable achievement.

This coming Monday, Durham play Homerton in what should, hopefully, be a good match. Week after, an Oxford derby between Queen's and Worcester.

Ian said...

Have to agree, never seen such a lot of conferring, JP should have stamped it out straight away.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack, Hi Ian,

Well, yes, I know what you mean about the conferring. But to play Devil's advocate , you do play to the referee. I don't blame Newcastle for dwelling on it if JP wasn't giving them the hurry up. Which is your point Ian - there is an argument that he should have been giving them the hurry up !

Yes, Jack that doesn't surprise me about the bonuses. They will have to do better than that if they are to win two quarter final matches.


Des Elmes said...

Hate to say this - but this, for me, was the most disappointing match of the series thus far.

Even Paxo said during the team introductions that it was expected to be close...

Have to agree with Jack and Ian that Newcastle's excessive conferring - which they also did against Queen's Belfast - wasn't good to watch. It's easy to suggest that when a team is taking too long over a bonus, the producers should tell JP to just give the answer and move on - but that probably wouldn't make good television, either...

As for Brum, one can't help but wonder why they - and Mr Surgener in particular - weren't as good on the buzzers as they were against Trinity Cambridge. Yes, the Tynesiders made a number of good interruptions - but that doesn't explain everything...

And the low bonus conversion rates, plus seven dropped starters, meant that the overall conversion rate - covering every question asked over the course of the show - was only 42/80.

With the two previous matches also failing to live up to expectations, one could do with Durham v Homerton this coming Monday being really good...