Saturday, 25 February 2012

University Challenge - Quarter Final Sudden Death - Match 1

Manchester v. Clare, Cambridge

While I was busy getting beaten in the Bridgend League again on Monday night, Manchester and Clare were getting on with the serious business of their sudden death quarter final match. The Manchester team of Luke Kelly, Michael McKenna, Paul Joyce, and captain Tristan Burke lost to UCL in their first quarters match, but then went on to survive an elimination match, knocking out a distinctly useful Newcastle outfit. The Clare team of Kris Cao, Daniel Janes, Jonathan Foxwell, and captain Jonathan Burley beat Homerton in their first quarter to earn two further bites at the cherry. They lost their first attempt to qualify in a thrilling match against Pembroke. On paper, an exciting match seemed to be ahead.

Luke Kelly knew that Live Aid came about as a result of a 1984 news report. Nicknames of politicians brought Manchester a full set of three. First blood duly taken, and then some. Daniel Janes buzzed too early on a series of historical figures with the forename Robert. This let in Michael McKenna , and a series of single name pseudonyms saw the team take another full set. Gresham’s Law escaped both teams. Kris Cao buzzed in too early for the pituatry gland, which again let the predatory Michael McKenna in. For the first time the team dropped a bonus on Egyptian Gods, but that gap was still growing. Neither team could identify a quote from Byron. Daniel Janes stopped the rot for Clare, knowing that Donegal is one of the three counties of Ulster situated in the Republic of Ireland. Bonuses on fishing gave a full set, and put them comfortably into the black. The first picture starter saw Daniel take a double , by identifying Baroness Ashton. Good shout, that. More of the same, female politicans and leaders, gave them 2 , and a near miss on Julia Gillard. Neither team knew Bramante was a chief architect on St. Peter’s Basilica. Paul Joyce, always an influential buzzer for Manchester, took his first of the evening with the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti. Ooh, matron. Innuendo overload. Another full set of bonuses on joules saw Manchester end the first ten minutes on a very healthy 95 to Clare’s 35.

Pandar from “Troilus and Criseyde” fell to Daniel Janes. The bonuses, on the Emperor Aurelian, yielded 2 bonuses. Luke Kelly answered that Nunavut is closest in size to Mexico. A UC special set of bonuses, involving arithmetic with numbers form the titles of books followed. It’s easier than it sounds – for example Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse ,multiplied by Bennett’s Towns = 25. Manchester managed two of these. Daniel Janes, who was having a storming game by this time, knew about the tonsure to earn bonuses on firs.A couple of bonuses were taken. That man Janes again took the next starter, knowing that Cher was a star of Moonstruck. Epithets from the Iliad gave them another full set. Both teams were mightily impressive on the bonuses in this first half of the contest. Kris Cao took the music starter, recognizing the work of composer Philip Glass. More music followed, with other avant guard composers. Clare impressed me by taking a full set. That was enough to push Clare into the lead. Daniel Janes recognized a DH Lawrence quote about Thomas Hardy. This brought up a set of bonuses on circuits and superconductors and that sort of thing. Stop me if I’m getting too technical. Luke Kelly knew that George III was the last King of Britain to claim the title of King of France. Well, he thought that a tree in Windsor Great Park was the King of Prussia, so what do you expect ? The following bonuses put Manchester 5 behind, and Michael McKenna correctly identified rhinoceros to bring up another UC special set. These were names of food and drink items where the first word ends with the first two letters of the second – eg orange gelato. Great set , and well done to Manchester for managing to get 2 of them. Neither team knew the sacral vertebrae, but Michael McKenna buzzed early and lost five. Paul Joyce put matters to right by getting the next starter, recognizing the line of succession to the throne. Bonuses on catalepsy brought Clare a 30 point lead at the 20 minute mark – with 170 to 140. All to play for.

Daniel janes won the buzzer race on The Affluent Society. Bonuses on sensory receptors bridged most of the gap. Paul Joyce recognized the style of Van Gogh for the second picture bonus. Works of art that were once stolen followed. Yet another full set. Just as the gap widened, so it narrowed, and it was Daniel Janes who did the business once again for Clare, recognizing that a quote from Shakespeare would be completed with the phrase “measure still for measure “. Fine work. Short story writers gave 2 bonuses. Tristan Burke wrongly zigged with Thomas More, allowing Daniel Janes to zag with Thomas Cromwell. Regnal names meant that Clare were first of the two teams through the 200 point barrier, With 5 minutes to go it was anyone’s game. Kris Cao buzzed in too early for a fungicide used in vineyards, but Manchester couldn’t capitalize. Skipper Tristan Burke , who’d had a quiet night, buzzed in with lacuna for the next starter. Indian states gave a couple of bonuses. Daniel Janes knew that Herbert Asquith was PM when Taft was President. Names for bones proved no match for Clare, who gobbled up the lot. Poor Kris Cao twitched on the next starter, and couldn’t answer how many black keys there are on a piano. Michael McKenna knew. Islands which can be reached from specific ferry terminals brought two bonuses, and the narrowest of leads for Manchester. Michael McKenna ran the buzzer race to identify monotremes as those mammals that lay eggs. Bonuses on scientific lines brought a welcome 10 points. Jonathan Burley took the next starter on the letter K. Cookery bonuses brought them 15 points. All square. Skipper Tristan Burke took the next starter on a priori reasoning. Common names of animals whose latin names contain domestica or domesticus passed them by. Luke Kelly took what looked like the last starter on fairs – and so it was. For the record Manchester won by 270 to 250, but what a match. Many many congratulations to both teams. I’m looking forward to seeing what the bonus conversion rate was – very good I should imagine. Hard lines particularly to Daniel Janes. I made it that he had 10 starters, a fantastic performance.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Is it me, or has JP been overdosing on his happy pills this series ? He was veritably chuckling when Daniel of Clare was so keen to get points on the board for the fishing bonuses that he didn’t hardly let JP finish any of the three questions. “Slowing things down a bit , “ he said genially as he moved to the next starter. When playing the John Cage Bonus – presumably from 4’33 – he added “I can assure you you’re hearing it correctly. “
He still doesn’t do words of consolation very well, mind. At the end he hailed Clare’s magnificent effort with,
“You nearly did it. . . but you didn’t.”

Interesting Fact Of The Week

David Starkey once described Thomas Cromwell as “Alastair Campbell with an axe. “ Brilliant, although I always thought that Mr. Campbell played the bagpipes rather than the guitar.


Jack said...

What's the best way to make up for a disappointing match like last weeks? With an absolutely brilliant one like this!

This is the game of the series for me by a long way. Both teams simply played absolutely brilliantly throughout, and it is a big shame that either must go out, especially at this late stage in proceedings,

Indeed, Clare's losing score of 250 is the highest losing score of the Paxo era, eclipsing Sheffield's 240 from 2001.

Very well done to Manchester though. They must now be serious contenders for the title. Apart from that slip-up against UCL, they have played consistently brilliantly throughout the series. Everyone contributes their bit to the team effort. But then, you never can tell with University Challenge.

So, on Monday, UCL play Balliol in the last quarter-final. Week after, Worcester and Manchester fight it out in the first semi-final.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Do you know what the bonus conversion rates were like ?

Jack said...

Well Dave, this is only a rough guess, but some quick calculations show that Clare pulled off 29/36 with three penalties, while Manchester did 28/39 with two penalties.

Hopefully, Des will get some more accurate figures later.

Des Elmes said...

I wouldn't just call this match absolutely brilliant - it was without doubt one of the very best and most exciting matches of the entire Paxman Era, if indeed not THE best and most exciting.

And yet that seemed a million miles away when Manchester led 70-(-10) in the opening minutes...

But once Daniel Janes got going, things got better and even better still.

Both teams were very quick on the buzzers, and the standard they set on the bonuses was almost out of this world.

And the lead changed hands no less than six times - four of which came after the second picture round.

Thus, when Clare tied it at 250 each with less than a minute left, I was quite literally shaking with excitement. Roger Tilling, of course, was very nearly exploding with it...

Then Manchester grabbed the next starter, and ran the clock down more than anything else on the subsequent bonuses - which is what any team with a narrow lead in the dying seconds should do IMHO, even if it's not the most sporting act in the world.

But there was still time for that one final starter. And of course, had Clare got that, a tie-break would have been required - which, if anything, would have probably been the fairest way to decide this match...

Jack is quite right as regards the bonus conversion rates - which led to a staggering overall conversion rate of 83/106.

And the aggregate score of 520 is the third-highest in the Paxman Era, and the highest this century. The only two matches to score higher are the 1994/5 grand final (in which Trinity Cambridge beat New Oxford 390-180) and the second semi-final in 1995/6 (in which Imperial beat Warwick 300-230).

It is a very desperate shame to have to lose either of these two great teams - but probably more so for that team to be Clare, given Mr Janes's achievements. Ten starters is surely the best individual effort in a lost match.

That said, their shaky start did tell against them in the end...

But for Manchester, it's a seventh semi-final appearance in eight series - and you have to go back to 2002/3 for the last time a team of theirs didn't make the last four.

And I'd make them THE favourites for the title now...