Tuesday, 3 January 2012

University Challenge - Quarter final match 2

Balliol, OXford v. Pembroke , Cambridge

I can only apologise to all LAM regulars who noticed that I never reviewed the first of our quarter final match ups. A combination of circumstances too tedious to relate here prevented me, and I’m sorry. I will do my best to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
Last night both Balliol of Oxford, and Pembroke of Cambridge had their first opportunity to get the win which would put one of each their collective feet in the semis. Balliol, who were Liam Shaw, Andrew Whitby, James Kirby and captain Simon Wood won their all Oxford second round clash when they squeaked past Merton.
Pembroke , represented by Ed Bankes, Ben Pugh, Bibek Mukherjee and Imogen Gold , have had little trouble disposing of their opposition in both of their previous matches. In their last match they scored 285 against Nottingham. Pembroke looked the favourites, then.

The show kicked off with a relative rarity – a first starter missed by both teams. They pinpointed that a set of actresses including Frances de la Tour and Sarah Bernhardt had all played a specific role in Hamlet, but not that the role was Hamlet himself. Bibek Mukherjee answered correctly on the French Revolution. This brought up one bonus on the Master(s) of the King’s Musick. Neither team could answer a tricky one on the amount of time since the Big Bang if expressed in specific units. The impressive Ben Pugh took his first of the night on Herman Goering. It’s fair to say that Mr. Pugh has been one of the most impressive individual buzzers in the series so far, and impression which was only enhanced by his performance last night. He followed it up with the next starter as well. He knew that Victor Sylvester’s SSQQS actually stood for Slow Slow Quick Quick Slow.
( I have a story to tell you about this. It was back during my childhood in the 1970s. I was off school for one of the usual childhood illnesses. My father was off work, probably the worst for drink the night before – I say worse, although if truth be told he was never much better when he was sober either. - He couldn’t abide the TV not being on, so he had it on in the morning, and was watching the Schools programmes – remember those ? A sex-education programme came on, and I distinctly remember idly listening as I was playing with my lego bricks. This is what I heard
“ Another, less reliable method of contraception is the rhythm method ( pause ) Slow, slow , quick , quick slow ! Keep it up now ! “
I looked up, to see that my father , deeply embarrassed, had turned the channel over, and we were now watching a programme on ballroom dancing. Come to think of it, maybe this explains why I have 5 children. I apologise for this pointless digression, and let’s get back to the review.)

One bonus followed on post war British Prime Minister. The picture starter showed one of the planets of the solar system in cross section. Ben Pugh made it a hattrick, identifying Venus. More of the same followed, and Pembroke, warming to their task, took the lot. Bibek Mukherjee, Pembroke’s other big hitter, took the next , knowing the daughter of Agamemnon offered up for sacrifice was Iphigenia ( which incidentally was the Christian name of Robin Williams’ character Mrs. Doubtfire ) . Bonuses took Pembroke to 90, and poor old Balliol, outbuzzed in this first part of the contest had yet to score. They remedied this when James Kirby knew the city of Augsburg , which brought up 3 bonuses on wind. That was enough to bring Balliol to 25 points by the ten minute mark.

Ben Pugh knew that if it’s an opera with a hunchback court jester then it’s Rigoletto. A full set followed on Literature. James Kirby took his own and his team’s second starter on Philosophers. 2 good bonuses followed on functional human anatomy. Bibek Mukherjee knew that Monaco gave its name to a declaration by a large gathering of the world’s top scientists in a particular field. One bonus followed on Ancient Greece. Neither team recognised the Hans Zimmer theme music of The Dark Knight. Those bonuses were held over twice because neither team knew the word Homomorphism. You don’t say. Ben Pugh knew the Russian acronym required for the next starter was Gulag. Damn good shout that, and it gave them one of the Hans Zimmer theme music bonuses. The Pembroke skipper took the next starter, knowing that the Roman province of Numidia was partly in modern day Tunisia. Liam Shaw grabbed some more points for Balliol on a quantum physics starter. They couldn’t take any of the bonuses on Geography. Imogen Gold got in on the act for Pembroke, knowing the various anagrams for the name of the poet Keats. Skate – Stake etc. So the second ten minutes had been almost a copy of the first. Pembroke had 190, and Balliol 55. The game , as a contest was over.

That having ben said, Balliol now took the last period to show us that they need not despair of reaching the semis. Simon Wood took a very good starter on words made up from combinations of the symbols of SI Units. 2 bonuses were taken on marsupials. The second picture starter showed a stamp bearing the picture of Ernest Rutherford. Ben Pugh knew it, and this brought up 2 bonuses on more scientists from the same set of stamps. James Kirby knew that the royal residence being described for the next starter was Clarence House. 2 bonuses were taken on chess terminology. Ben Pugh took his last starter on the river Garonne, which brought up a pair on films of the great Billy Wilder. Liam Shaw knew Stephen Jay Gould , and earned a full set of bonuses on a great UC set about people whose names begin with a greek letter – an example would have been Cecil RHOdes. Simon Wood knew a zygote, and a great full set on exponents of 10 in quantities followed. Nope, me neither. Neither team knew about what sounded like sexy primes. Andrew Whitby knew the Altiplano, and the team took a bonus on the history of Afghanistan. After this Balliol onslaught, Bibek Mukherjee though took the last starter, on South Seas geography.

At the gong, Pembroke had 240, a comfortable win, but at least Balliol had battled to a respectable 160. They aren’t finished yet by any means, but you have to say that Pembroke do look a pretty good bet for the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I think JP has used up a lot of his best lines on the Christmas series, since the only thing worthy of mention last night was his observation that the rules “remain as constant as the North star. “ You don’t get poetry like that on All Star Family Fortunes.

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

The Russian word Gulag – a forced labour camp – is actually an acronym.


Jack said...

If you want, Dave, I could write a review of the Manchester-UCL match from before Christmas, and email it to you.

Anyway, an enjoyable match, with both teams playing well. The ever brilliant Ben Pugh getting seven correct starters, leading to a total of 22/39 bonuses. Balliol spread their starters well; James Kirby's three starters were best, as the side made a very good 16/24 bonuses.

Highlight for me was Mr Pugh suddenly realising he knew the answer to the final bonus of the show, only for the gong to go before he could say it!

Next week, Newcastle play Worcester. A tough one to call really; could go either way.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Thanks for the offer, but it's a little like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. I did see the show, just didn't get to write about it . Thanks for the offer.

Andrew B. said...

It's luck of the draw, of course, but I did feel that Balliol got some easy bonuses... the "exponents" set was basically "Do any of you have ? OK - here's 15 points!"

I know TV quizzes generally struggle with "science" questions, but you'd think UC could make a better job of it.

DanielFullard said...

Score flattered Balliol in the end, Pembroke and Pugh in particular clearly the better team

Londinius said...

Hi Daniel

I don't know that the score flattered Balliol in the end. Yes, I agreed that Pembroke were clearly the better team. But if you say that Balliol were flattered, you're maybe suggesting that Pembroke took their foot of the gas in the last ten minutes or so. Now, OK, that might be the case. I've never played in UC before, so what I say is based on supposition rather than experience. But I don't think, when you're in the heat of the battle, that it would occur to you to slacken off, especially when the adrenaline is flowing. My reading of it was that Balliol, albeit too late, started throwing caution to the wind with their buzzing, and started to really reap the benefits from it. These guys are no mugs - just look at how well they did with their bonuses. We'll see when we come to their next match.

Andrew B. said...

That should have been "Do any of you have a maths A level?" in my comment... not sure what I did there!