Saturday, 20 October 2012

University Challenge - Round One - Heat 12

University College, London v. University of Exeter

JP never seems to tire of introducing UCL as the godless institution of Gower Street. They always seem to go well in the opening stages of the competition and representing them were Adam Papahilippopoulos, Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith, Tom Parton and their captain Simon Dennis. Their opponents were the University of Exeter, represented by James Bellamy, William O’Rourke, John Ault, and their captain Rob Bentall. The tantalizing carrot dangling in front of both teams was the very realistic possibility of a place in the semis, even if they lost, since a score of 150 would give them a very good chance. On with the show.

James Bellamy kicked off for Exeter, recognizing a number of definitions for the word cohort. A good fast buzz, that one. The bonuses were on Straits named after explorers, and they took a full set. Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith came in too early for the next one, which asked which entrepreneur was being referred to in the quote that you should not give consumers what they want, because they don’t know what they want. JP gave the full question to Exeter, then snatched away the possibility of them answering it when he caught them conferring. More on that later. I’m not going to repeat the whole of the next starter. However, if I say “hominid discovered in Ethiopia in 1974” that will probably be enough to give you the answer. It certainly was for Simon Dennis, who recognized that we were talking about the famous Lucy. UCL received a set on Essex, and took one of them. AT the moment it looked advantage Exeter. John Ault stretched Exeter’s lead with the next starter. Prime minister – Declaration – Poodle – more than enough to give him the name of Arthur Balfour. Scientific Principles offered me little, and bought me less, that is, nothing. Exeter didn’t get any either. Simon Dennis took his second starter for UCL with longshore drift. An early UC special set followed. Each questions required the names of 2 authors, the surname of the first being the given name of the second. Upton Sinclair – Sinclair Lewis – for example. A great little set, but I’m afraid that UCL didn’t manage any of them. Neither side managed a starter on playwright Ben Jonson. Did he take up writing plays after he was disqualified from the Olympics ? Doesn’t matter . Whenever I hear a question which begins “Which particle . . . “ I usually say Alpha particle. Sometimes it works, and tonight was one of them, even though I didn’t have a Scooby doo what the question was about. James Bellamy probably did have a clue what it was about, and he buzzed in early enough to take the points. An interesting set on third men brought Exeter, and me, two bonuses. This brought up the picture starter, and the ever popular Roman roads. UCL’s inspirational captain Simon Dennis buzzed in first with Fosse Way, to bring up three more of the same. UCL managed Watling Street. At the ten minute mark Exeter still led, by 55 to 35, and we had what looked like a good contest on our hands.

Simon Dennis knew that Helen Johnson-Sirleaf who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 was from Liberia. Bonuses on philosophy brought them level. Muckrakers escaped both teams. Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith knew the term serum for the next set of bonuses on pharmacology. A full set were taken, which incidentally earned a ‘well done’ from JP. Simon Dennis won the buzzer race to identify the word ‘common’ as being the common word linking law, sense and market. 1 bonus on chess grandmasters meant that UCL were now leading, and knocking on the door of 100 points. They certainly seemed to be putting their collective foot on the gas. Neither team managed Peter Paul Rubens for the next starter, and the next one after that, on Isabelle Allende also went begging. The next was a UC special starter.JP gave the fastest time for the winning crew in the University Boat Race, and then asked how far sunlight travels in that time to the nearest astronomical unit. It was that man Dennis who had it. JP sounded amazed. The bonuses that followed were on the views of the historian AJP Taylor. 2 bonuses too their score to 110, precisely double that of Exeter, who were in danger of being buzzed out of the contest. Given the music starter it seemed almost inevitable that Simon Dennis would buzz in to identify that Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up “ was written by Stock, Aitken, and Waterman ( Leonhard, Jonathan and Dennis ? Probably not . (Leonhard Stock won the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic downhill skiing gold medal, when he controversially replaced the great Franz Klammer in the Austrian team . ) ) Three more songs by three more songwriting teams followed, and I was delighted to get a full set. Who do you think took the next starter ? Yep, Simon Dennis, knowing the name of the guy who wrote the screenplay of the film “Barfly”. For which he earned a set of bonuses on symmetry. No, I didn’t. UCL on the other hand managed two. I don’t really know what adjuvant means, but Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith did, which is all that matters. The shutout of Exeeter had now stretched to more than ten minutes, as UCL were given bonuses on US States and their official foods. I thought that UCL did well to get 2 of these. At the 20 minute mark UCL had pretty much guaranteed themselves at least a repechage slot with 160, while Exeter languished on 55.

Adam Papaphilippopoulis took his first starter of the night. ( I have to apologise for dipping into puerility for the next comment, but I thought I’d share it with you. I don’t often write my reviews while watching a playback of the show, but I did this one that way, and Mary my wife was in the same room. When Adam answered this starter she observed – I bet you’re glad he hasn’t answered many starters tonight – and obvious comment about the length of his surname. The worst of it is, she was right. ) He knew the Oresteia trilogy. The bonuses on Art and Astronomy were all gettable, and they took 2 of them. The second picture starter showed a painting by an American artist, and it was William O’Rourke who managed to break the UCL stranglehold on the buzzer by coming in first to answer that it was Whistler. More of the same followed, and Exeter managed to get one. About 5 minutes to go, and UCL had already won, but the question which needed to be answered was whether Exeter could get the 30 points they needed to get into triple figures. Adam Papaphilippopoulis , into his stride now, knew that the Teatro Olimpico was designed by Palladio – good shout. A special set on European idioms and their English equivalents brought them up to a round 200 points. A trigonometry thing cam next. I guessed Sine, Tom Parton knew it was cosine. The bonuses this answer earned were on insect development. You pays yer money . . . 1 was taken anyway. The next starter offered “play” and “Shelagh Delaney” which was enough to send Simon Dennis away, as he correctly won the buzzer race to answer “A Taste of Honey”. Bonuses on Shakespeare’s “To Be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet were surprisingly tricky – I only got the easy one myself – not that I have ever taught the play, you understand. Something about Archimedean solids followed, but nobody knew it. Fair play to James Bellamy for buzzing early on the next starter about the highest ranking angels in their hierarchy, but he zigged with Archangels, while almost inevitably Simon Dennis zagged with seraphim. The parliaments of EU member states gave UCL a little more gloss, with another couple of correct answers. I suspected that when Exeter skipper Rob Bentall supplied the answer Brian Clough, when asked which sporting figure was the subject of the book “Nobody ever Says Thank You “ , that it was a little too late for Exeter to reach three figures, but they managed to take 2 bonuses on abbreviations used by the IUCN. Simon Dennis capped off a fine individual performance when he knew that the series of words which have this number of letters – 3,3,4,4,3,5,5, represents the words for numbers starting with one. Exceptionally quickly worked out. I guessed the gong would come then. There was no time for another starter, so Exeter were stranded on 85. UCL finished with a highly impressive 60.

Hard lines Exeter. From the evidence we had in the show, they are certainly not a bad team. But the fact is that UCL were buzzing extremely well, often buzzing in with a correct answer before the question was finished. Does this guarantee that they will be in there having a major say in the destination of the title ? Maybe. You could pick out weaknesses – the fact that they took relatively few full sets of bonuses, and the fact that the great bulk of their starters came from one source . But you can’t ignore the fact that this is a strong outfit, and you’d be a fool to bet against them doing well.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I’m delighted to say that one of the teams upset him early tonight. When Exeter started conferring on only the second starter JP’s voice rose in indignation, and in tones not unreminiscent of a dalek whose spaceship has just received a parking ticket , exclaimed “ You can NOT CON-FER ! “

You know that you’ve probably come out with a bit of a corker when JP goes all quiet. When one of the Exeter team offered Tom Stoppard as the name of one of Inigo Jones collaborators there was a sharp intake of breath, and very dismissive “ God Lord, no. “ He then dared UCL to have a go, and when a speculative punt of Harold Pinter was offered, he made no effort to hide his incredulity , “You’re out by about 300 years !” Well, if we’re being pedantic JP it’s a lot closer to 400, but never mind.

There was a nice little dig at Stock , Aitken and Waterman. “Yes, they were guilty of many of the hits of the 80s."

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

The term muckrakers, referring to a particular kind of whistle blowing journalists, has its origins in John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”.


jim360 said...

On the Astronomical unit question, it's one of those that is easy when you know it... 1AU = the distance between the Sun and the Earth. Also, sunlight takes (just over) eight minutes to reach earth. Takes a bit of thinking, but with those two facts it's simply (about 16)/(about 8) = about 2.

There's been a fair amount more questions like that in recent UC series, that require combining two or three different facts together to answer a totally original question. Which is a nice touch and also is probably the biggest reason for the fact that in earlier years scores on University challenge were far higher than today.

Two more first-round matches to go and they'll be played by New College Oxford v. Homerton Cambridge, and Warwick v. Aberdeen. Current losers' score needed to guarantee a place in the repechage is 145, with Lancaster sitting precariously on 140. But we're through, so see you in November!

Jack said...

Great performance from U.C.L., by far the best of the series so far. Poor Exeter did not deserve a beating like that; they'd likely have come out on top against another team.

Simon Dennis was the top buzzer for U.C.L., answering a mighty 11 starters, which led to 22/45 bonuses (with two penalties). James Bellamy answered two for Exeter, with his colleagues getting one each; the side managed 8/15 bonuses with one penalty.

It also means that King's College Cambridge are into the repechage; well done James!

James is correct about the remaining draws as well. Good to see Aberdeen (my local uni) back on the show after so long! It does mean, however, that Edinburgh has not made the televised heats for the first time since 1998/99!

jim360 said...

Oh, no doubt Dennis in particular has been the sharpest individual performance on the buzzer, and if he keeps it up he might well be this series' Guttenplan/ Trimble. Exeter were hard done by, and it's hard to tell how good they were because they were so horribly outclassed here.

This was the first time I've seen UCL and I was very impressed, but mainly with Mr. Dennis. I think without him the rest of the team didn't stand out too much, at least on starters. Though, again, maybe Mr. Dennis was beating his own team to the buzzer as well as Exeter, so perhaps Papaphilipopoulos et al were equally hard done-by here!