Saturday, 10 December 2011

University Challenge - Round 2 - Match 7

Merton, Oxford v. Balliol , Oxford

JP introduced the penultimate match of the second round, and seemed rather amused that the fixture generator – random or otherwise – had thrown together two Oxford colleges. Both teams won close matches in their first rounds, which saw their beaten opposition progress to the repechage. Merton, who were Bill Hellier, Denis Dillon, Cosmo Grant and captain Tim Smith-Laing, saw off St. Andrews. The Balliol team of Liam Shaw, Andrew Whitby, James Kirby and Simon Wood beat Homerton in their first match. Well, Homerton are already through to the quarters. Would Balliol join them ?

Not if Tim Smith-Laing had anything to do with it. He led from the front in the early part of the show, and started as he meant to go on by taking the first starter, recognizing several descriptions of the word cursor. One bonus was taken on William of Malmesbury. James Kirby struck back with Lord John Russell for the next starter. 2 bonuses were taken on various types of corpuscle. Tim Smith-Laing knew that the figure from a fairy tale whose name is used in conjunction with a planet with the conditions necessary for life is Goldlilocks. A full set of bonuses followed on horses in classical poetry – messrs. Virgil, Horace and Ovid as I predicted were all present and correct. Unfortunately I didn’t get them in the correct order. Merton did. The Merton skipper took a double, knowing that the coypu was introduced to the UK from South American to be farmed for its fur. 2 bonuses were taken. A lovely little starter followed, where the teams were shown a first verse of a famous poem, and asked to identify the poet. The catch was that only the last words of some of the lines were shown. I knew it was Ode on a Grecian Urn by Keats, but the teams let that one pass by. Liam Shaw recognized Mr. Toad’s description of his own gaff, Toad Hall, and this earned the poetry picture bonus set, of which one was taken. James Kirby took the next starter with the Davis Cup, but the team couldn’t add any bonuses on cartography. At the ten minute mark Merton preserved a small lead, with 60 to Balliol’s 45.

Neither team knew the best place for a first date – according to English Heritage. It’s the Roman Baths ( at Bath, presumably ). James Kirby had a good early buzz for the next starter, identifying that two German cities have the word Frankfurt as part of their name. One bonus was taken on George Sand. James Kirby made it a double with the Book of Revelation for the next starter. 2 invertebrates were identified for bonuses. Denis Dillon couldn’t have heard more than a bar or two of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony before he gave it as the correct answer to the music starter – an impressive buzz, that. Alas, Merton could not manage to identify any of three more 7th symphonies by German or Austrian composers. Merton managed to identify Singer as a name shared by several specific people, and this bought up a full set of bonuses on word pairs, where the F at the end of the first word is replaced by a D for the second word – eg Deaf and Dead – Wolf and Wold etc. Liam Shaw knew that Dorothy L. Sayers, Salman Rushdie and Fay Wheldon all were successful in advertising. A couple of bonuses on apples brought the teams level. A number thing followed, but neither team got it. Cosmo Grant buzzed in too early to offer Descartes as a French philosopher mathematician. Well he was, but not the one required. Five points away. Hard lines. Liam Shaw correctly offered Pascal. 1 bonus followed on the largest towns of islands. The second picture starter was identified as a painting by Edgar Degas by James Kirby. The bonuses showed three pictures featuring absinthe, of which 2 were correctly ascribed. That little Balliol flurry had pushed them ahead on the scoreboard. At the 20 minute mark they led by 130 to 90.

It was vital for Merton to take the next starter, but it was the impressive James Kirby who took it, recognizing a set of demands by the Chartists. 1 bonus fell to Balliol on Women’s writing. James Kirby then made it three starters in a row, by giving Munich as the german city housing a particular library. No bonuses could be taken on states of Brazil. Too late now for Merton ? Actually, no. Bill Hellier weighed in with the next starter, giving the right answer of nitrogen. A full set followed on films about bonus, and a part of the lead sliced off. Denis Dillon knew that the only surname shared by both a British PM and a US president is Wilson. No bonus could be taken on the History of Science. Denis Dillon made it a starter double, knowing that Nepal and Bhutan share borders with both India and China. 1 bonus followed on works of Goethe. The gap stood at a mere 15 points. Neither team took the next starter, but James Kirby gave away five for an early buzz. To make amends he did correctly answer that Switzerland is the smallest country in Europe which has the word – land as part of its name. 2 bonuses followed on the moon, and the clock was running down. Bill Hellier knew that Mercury and Venus have no moons. There was time for Merton to correctly answer the first two bonuses on the Human Condition, but that was that. At the gong, it was a narrow win for Balliol by 170 to 160. Another fine contest – well done to both teams.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP seemed rather amused by the Toad Hall question. In fact I may be mistaken but I have a feeling that he may even be a closet Pooh fan. He called the poem bonuses unlocked by the Mr. Toad starter “ less elevated literature” and I don’t even think he was being sarcastic.
On the cartography question the team were doing what I would have done – that is – dredging up the only name which comes to mind for me – Mercator – and trotting it out as the answer to each question . JP wasn’t having any of that. When offered the name for the second time running he replied,
“No – get it out of your head !”

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

Medan is the name of the biggest city on the island of Sumatra


Jack said...

Yet again, both teams play a superb match, and neither deserved to lose. For the record, because Merton fought back so brilliantly towards the end there, I actaully wanted them to pull it off. But, alas, it was not to be.

Messrs. Dillon and Smith-Laing both got three starters for Merton which led to 15/26 bonuses. Mr Kirby's impressive haul of eight starters more than made up for Balliol's showing on the bonuses: just 13/33. And there was one penalty each.

Next week, the final second round match between Pembroke and Nottingham. The week after, the quarter-finals begin with UCL vs Manchester.

Then, while the show takes its Christmas break, we have a Celebrity UC series, featuring ten teams of celebrity alumni of various unis/colleges. The first match, between York and Manchester alumni, goes out on December 19th, alongside the regular match.

Des Elmes said...

Given the teams' respective first-round performances, I expected a Balliol victory - albeit by a bit more than ten points.

In the end, Mr Kirby's impressive buzzer work proved crucial. And, as Jack says, it made up for a surprisingly poor bonus conversion rate.

Why "surprisingly" poor? Well, against Homerton, Balliol managed 21/30...

Of course, that's not meaning to take away from them at all. And nothing can be taken away from Merton's performance, either - it's always a shame when a team fights back brilliantly at the end, only to fall just short.

On to tonight's match which, curiously enough, is between the teams that won the last two first-round matches...

Pembroke Cambridge never looked too worried against an otherwise gallant St Anne's Oxford, whereas Nottingham were pushed hard by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Both sides feature a very good buzzer - Pembroke have Ben Pugh while the Notts have their fiftysomething captain Lee Cooper - but when it comes to the respective bonus conversion rates, Nottingham are well ahead (23/33 against 17/36).

I therefore predict them to win tonight, but it would surprise me if it wasn't very close.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack - Hi Des

I tend to agree Des. It's always a little sad to see a team fightback so well, and then lose . But then it would have been a shame to see Balliol lose too.

This has been one of the closest series I can remember in recent years. I'll be honest, if you asked me to pick a winner yet I would really struggle.