Monday, 13 February 2012

University Challenge - Elimination Match 2

Balliol Oxford v. Homerton Cambridge

For the first time we found that we had a rematch on our hands at this quarter final stage. Balliol, who were Liam Shaw, Andrew Whitby, James Kirby and captain Simon Wood won their first round match against this same Homerton team by 5 points. They won an all Oxford second round clash when they squeaked past Merton, this time by 10 points. Then in their first match of these quarter finals they were well beaten by the much fancied outfit from Pembroke. As for Homerton, after that first round defeat by Balliol the team of Jack Euesden, Frances Conner, Thomas Grinyer and captain David Murray comfortably beat the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the repechage match. In round two proper they had another comfortable win against a team from Durham who had set the highest score in the first round. Then in their first quarter final match they lost a close contest to Clare. The form guide suggested that there really wasn’t a lot in it, and as always, whoever got their buzzing game together quickest would have an advantage.

James Kirby won the first starter, buzzing in to identify a group of people all linked by the surname Grey. A set of bonuses on medieval history passed without them managing to add to the score. Homerton hit back immediately with Thomas Grinyer who knew about the semaphore system. If Homerton were going to progress they needed Thomas Grinyer back to his best. He had consistently been the fastest buzzer on their team, but he had been surprisingly twitchy in the previous match, and buzzed too early on a number of occasions. One bonus on quotations about porridge put Homerton in the lead. Andrew Whitby knew that it was Graham Greene who came to regret his use of the word ‘seedy’ . Once again, though, Balliol missed out on the bonuses, this time on women’s organisations. Neither team were familiar with Feuerbach’s Theorem. No, of course I wasn’t either. Frances Conner put Homerton back in front, knowing that the new Olympic sport of 1996 which was being referred to was beach volleyball. Two bonuses were taken on French writers’ pseudonyms. The first picture starter was a good UC special. We saw a line from a Shakespeare play rendered in characters of the international phonetic alphabet. Liam Shaw identified the play as Julius Caesar. Balliol went on to take their first bonus of the night by identifying another play in the same way. Liam Shaw took his second starter in a row by giving us Newton, and this time Balliol managed two bonuses on spheres. It had been a fairly bright and breezy first 10 minutes, and Balliol had a narrow lead of 55 to 35.

Andrew Whitby took the next starter on Milton Friedman. Again, Balliol managed a brace of bonuses on varieties of the colour blue. Jack Euesden, trying to buzz Homerton back into the contest, twitched too early on the next starter on the Etruscan language, but Balliol couldn’t capitalise on the error. The next starter went begging as well, on a rather involved question about the relative difference between the weights of the heaviest oarsman, and the lightest crew member in the University Boat Race. Liam Shaw, who was having a good night, took the next with the website Chat Roulette. Fair enough. No bonuses could be taken though. You got the idea that Balliol had the measure of Homerton in this part of the contest, but they were only pulling out the gap relatively slowly. Neither team recognised a work by Mendelssohn for the music starter, nor did they know a starter about Mark Anthony either. However the impressive Liam Shaw knew that a series of observatories could all be found on Mauna Kea, a good shout that one. This brought one bonus on the music set. Jack Euesden managed points for Homerton with the term lawn. 2 bonuses followed on Medicine and Literature. Again, it was Liam Shaw who brought home the bacon on the next starter with inverse square law. One astronomy bonus was his reward. Andrew Whitby recognised a group of actresses, all of whom had played the role of Ophelia, and this time Balliol managed two bonuses on logic. Neither team recognised a painting of Madame de Pompadour. Well, to be fair the painter seemed to have deliberately left out the Doctor and the clockwork robots. This brought us up to the 20 minute mark, and Balliol had extended their lead to 135, as against Homerton’s 50.

In a low scoring contest you fancied that Balliol should close the match out fairly comfortably. However the fact was that it had been a low scoring contest, and if Homerton could switch into top gear that 85 point gap could be gobbled up relatively quickly. David Murray took the next starter on a set of definitions of the rhyming words – elope – Pope and horoscope. A full set of three bonuses on , erm, royal mistresses, was a step in the right direction for them. James Kirby supplied the term altruism for the next starter, and two bonuses followed on the city of Samarkand. David Murray took his second starter, recognising clues to a series of words beginning with – oz. Only one bonus followed on probability distribution. Probably. Neither team fancied a starter on chemistry, but Liam Shaw knew the word matrix. 2 bonuses on the US Department of Justice were enough to give Balliol a bit of security. Not that Homerton were going to lie down until the gong. Frances Conner knew that Hobsbawm said that the 19th century actually ended in 1914. 3 bonuses on homonyms in French were despatched over the boundary rope. Thomas Grinyer, subdued this match when compared to his performances earlier in the series, knew the Kalahari Desert. This brought two bonuses on words beginning with Kie. The gap was now down to 40 points. Theoretically it was just about possible that Homerton could still pull it out of the bag, but it was going to be a very close run thing. James Kirby lost 5 on the next starter, but nobody for Homerton could dredge up the word stigma. That effectively ended their chances. Jack Euesden took the last starter with the greek letter psi, but that was all we had time for, as the gong sounded before any of the bonuses were asked. In the end, Balliol lived on to fight another day with 170, while Homerton were bidden farewell with 145. Hard lines, but well played for your performances throughout the series. Well played Balliol. One more win will put them through to the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I liked the way that JP accelerated his delivery to a veritable devil’s gallop in the last 10 minutes, which raised the unlikely possibility that Homerton might just claw their way back. Other than that I enjoyed his response to the term ‘chat roulette’ – “We’ll enquire no further”, and also his description of Lillie Langtry as “Edward VII’s main squeeze.”

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

The word matrix is derived from a latin word for womb.


HughTube said...

I assume Homerton are the first team ever to lose three matches in a series. I think they are very unfortunate to be in that position as all four of them were good players and, as you said, they played well throughout the series. Hard lines.

This series is so difficult to call.

Jack said...

To be honest, I felt this match was a huge disappointment, especially when you consider the excellent match these two gave us back in August. Neither team was anywhere near as impressive as they were back then.

Still, well done to Balliol, and bad luck to Homerton. Thomas Grinyer, in particular, will be missed by many on Twitter, who are disappointed that we will not be seeing a Karran-Grinyer face-off!

To be honest Dave, I'd say this series has been a disappointing series compared to last year's. There have been very few truely memorable matches; certainly nothing on the scale of Sheffield's win over Magdalen last year.

But, as Des has said, last year's series was always going to be tough to follow.

So, next week, Manchester play Clare, and then UCL play Balliol. Then we're finally in the home straight with the semi-finals.

joe said...

Too many dull sets of questions on maths and formulae for me (and most viewers.

Londinius said...

Hi Hugh

I hadn't thought about it like that. I don't know if any of the repechage teams in either of the last two series made it through to lose twice in the semis. But I will check as soon as I finish writing this comment. I agree that it's difficult to call.

Hi Jack

I think you're really offering us a reason why this series is so difficult to call. You can't quite asy that any of the teams has stood out as being guaranteed to beat most of the others. Maybe we've been spoiled by the last three series. Last year was a vintage series. The season before we had Alex G and the guys from Emmanuel, and the season before that a great final between Manchester and Corpus Christi. But there's still been much to enjoy in this series. For example, much has been written on the net about Jamie Karran, who wasn't on top form last time out but has proven himself to be a good quizzer during the series. He's entertaining enough to be worth the price of admission by himself.

Hi Joe

It's always going to be a tricky act, balancing the different question subjects and areas. You know from my comments about the show that I struggle with the Sicenes - my educational background is in the Arts and Humanities, and there's only so much scientific knowledge that you're ever likely to pick up through quizzes. But without questions on the Sciences, then it's not University Challenge. Which doesn't mean that they always manage to get the balance right. I'll be honest, I didn't notice any unreasonable bias on Monday myself.

Des Elmes said...

Hate to say this... but this was probably the most disappointing match of the series thus far.

I don't think I was the only one who expected that Homerton would go foot to the floor - not only wanting revenge for that very narrow defeat last August, but also feeling quite sore after that similarly narrow defeat against Clare.

Instead, they only really got going after the second picture round - by which time Balliol, despite not having much luck with the bonuses, had built up a lead that proved to be irretrievable.

An anticlimax, I'm afraid to say. :(

The Oxford side's eventual BCR was 13/33 with that one late penalty - quite a contrast to the 21/30 they achieved in the first match. Liam Shaw finished with six starters, while Andrew Whitby picked up three and James Kirby two.

For Homerton, Thomas Grinyer got two starters - as did all three of his team-mates. Their BCR was 14/21 with one penalty.

Yes, they actually got more bonuses right than Balliol despite being asked considerably fewer...

Have to agree with Hugh that they are very unfortunate - and I, too, am disappointed that we won't be seeing Mr Grinyer taking on Jamie Karran.

But que sera, sera.

Des Elmes said...

Let's hope, however, that Manchester v Clare next Monday does live up to its promise...

I expect the Mancunians to shade it after that awesome performance against Newcastle. And, of course, they'll be looking to keep up the university's amazing run of semi-final appearances...

One wouldn't expect Clare to make life easy for them, though - even if they find themselves miles behind at the halfway point, like they did against Pembroke.

And it's worth noting that in the two previous years of this quarter-final format, the outcome of one of the two final QFs was quite literally in doubt till the very end - Manchester beating Edinburgh by five points two years ago (when the gong sounded just as Edinburgh were buzzing on a starter), and York beating Oxford Brookes by the same margin last year (after both teams got the last starter wrong).

Well, I wouldn't rule out this match going a similar way - and the same can be said for Balliol v UCL, too.