Friday, 30 November 2012

University Challenge - Round 2 - Match 2

University of York v. New College, Oxford

The first of these two teams, the University of York, beat Trinity Laban first time out in the very first heat of this series. The team consisted of Alex Leonhardt, Robin Virgo, Edward Haynes, and skipper Rebecca Woods. As for New College , Oxford, they looked very strong beating a Homerton side who were good enough to progress to the repechage round themselves. The team were Remi Beecroft, India Lenon, Tom Cappleman, and skippering the side was Andy Hood.

India Lenon kicked off with the Orwell prizes. First blood to New College. Bonuses on Philosophy and Literature brought York just the one bonus. Me too, as it happened. A very long winded question about viruses followed – but since it was a ‘which type of ‘ question I went for retroviruses, and about ten minutes later when the question was finished Edward Haynes of York buzzed in with the same answer. The difference being that he knew the answer, whereas I was just saying the only type of virus I could think of, but I don’t care, they all count. I loved the bonuses on Foreign Secretaries , and the words of the FCO website which were quoted. I didn’t have many of them right, though, only the one on Herbert Morrison. The next starter asked about the Cabots, and it fell to Tom Cappleman. Diseases named after islands was the next rather esoteric bonus set. Only the one fell to New College from that set. A really good starter followed. In his ‘we shall fight on the beaches ‘ speech, Churchill named 4 other general locations – name 3 of them. Go on , try it. It’s not easy. It’s landing grounds, streets, fields and hills. Neither team could do it. Alex Leonhardt of York ( who is from Porthcawl, just a few miles down the road from LAM Towers ) knew the real name of musician MIA and this earned his team a set on pairs of names. This is an old UC favourite which crops up at least once a series . The surname of the first person gives you the given name of the second – a la Bobby Charlton Heston. In my favourite answer of the night, the York team clutched at the straw that Bing Crosby wrote as well as sang the song “White Christmas” , thus giving us ‘Chandler Bing – Bing Crosby’. Skipper Rebecca Woods said it with a smile on her face, and it made me laugh. I don’t know if JP had ever heard of Chandler Bing, for it passed sans comment. Again, only one bonus was taken. Edward Haynes was first to buzz in with a correct identification of the trade routes known as the silk road for the picture starter. More of the same followed - showing us salt, amber and incense routes. York took two of these, and for the first time opened a bit of daylight. This gaped wider when Edward Haynes buzzed in to say that it is the avocet that has the distinctive upturned bill. 2 bonuses on evolutionary biology kept the York pot boiling along nicely, and it meant that at the 10 minute mark York had a lead of 75 to 30.

New College really needed someone to step in and take the wind out of York’s sails a little, and Andy Hood stepped up to the plate with a very quick buzz to say that Mark Cavendish was the first Brit to win the world cycling road race title in a very long time. One bonus on women astronomers narrowed the gap a little further.Rebecca Woods then emulated her opposite number to be the first to buzz in to recognize a series of words which all contain – balti -. This brought up the first full house of the show, with three correct answers on philosophy. We weren’t halfway through yet, but York looked decent value for their 65 point lead. A question on instability followed – fair enough. India Lenon knew that Murano is the Venetian island famous for glass production. I enjoyed the set on world rulers – we’ll give you the rulers, you give us the century, you know how it works by now. They were gettable – well I got them – but tricky, and they eluded New College. Not to worry. Remi Beecroft buzzed in quickly to identify the Arctic Monkeys for the music starter. Now , some of the band were raised in Sheffield – and so the bonuses were other artists from Sheffield. – “Joe Cocker – Jarvis Cocker and Pulp – Human League ! “ I shouted before any of them were played. Well, two of them were right ! Richard Hawley was the odd one out for me. As it worked out New College knew the two that I did. Tom Cappleman knew that Winston Churchill called the Seven Years War the first World War. A full set of bonuses would wipe out York’s lead completely. A set of bonuses on the uroboros, or the serpent eating its own tail, provided just that. I had a Science starter for the next one. Put out the flags ! Asked which is the only element apart from iodine that has a personal pronoun for its symbol, Tom Cappleman and I both answered Helium – He , you see. Tom Cappleman capped this by supplying correct answers to all three of a set of Maths bonuses. This was becoming a real test of nerve for York now. Somehow or other they really needed to start buzzing their way back into the show. Neither team knew about Theodore Hook, and so it was on with the next starter. This was another numbers thing. Robin Virgo had a pop – absolutely the right thing to do, but was incorrect. Tom Cappleman made no mistake, thus earning his team a set on 5 letter homonyms. A nice set that, and New College looked like they were unhappy with themselves for only getting the two. I knew the flag of Gabon when it ws described for the next starter – thanks Sporcle – but neither team could get it. This brought up my second ( sort of ) Science starter of the night, since I knew that Boron is the 5th element of the periodic table.Andy Hood took that one. It was a long time since York had managed a correct buzz, and you really began to feel at this point that New College’s spurt was going to be a decisive one. English place names meant that they now led by 165 to 100 at the 20 minute mark, and had scored a lot of unanswered points in the previous 10 minutes.

The second picture starter saw neither team identify a portrait of Edgar Degas. Neither team knew that Arizona and New Mexico celebrated the centenary of their admission to the Union in 2012. Robin Virgo had a pop again at the next starter, about coloured balls in an urn, and combinations thereof, but it took Tom Cappleman to give the correct answer of 10. He was certainly earning his crust in this show. For his pains this earned the team the picture bonuses – more paintings of impressionist painters by other impressionist painters. Both painter and subject were required – a hell of a lot for not a lot of points IMHO. Now at last Rebecca Woods managed to add to York’s score, correctly identifying Baudelaire’s use of the term Flaneur. Wasn’t he on Tiswas ? Or am I thinking of the phantom phlan phlinger ? Anyway, York really needed a full set of bonuses but unfortunately Louis Pasteur could only provide the one. Andy Hood, seemingly annoyed that he had allowed York to beat him to the buzzer for the last question buzzed in extremely early for the Japanese massacre in Nanjing in 1937. 2 bonuses on British film directors pretty much sealed the deal, albeit that there were still a few minutes left. Right – now if there’s a question which has the words ‘American economist’ in it , what’s the percentage answer ? That’s right – Milton Friedman. Don’t knock it, it worked for me on the next starter. Maybe that’s how Andy Hood got it, and maybe he knew, but he had the right answer anyway. EU legislative assemblies proved too elusive, but what the hell, the starter alone had pushed New College through the 200 points barrier. Andy Hood improved his batting average further by correctly answering that it was Georges Pompidou who was President of France when the UK joined the Common Market in 1973. Counties of the republic of Ireland sounded like a gettable set, but they didn’t manage any of them. Robin Virgo took a deserved starter on the radius of the Earth to earn a set of bonuses on years of royal events, which were multiples of small numbers. Look, it was what it was, ok. York couldn’t do a great deal with these, but at least Robin Virgo took a second consecutive starter with Edmund Halley.Another maths set followed, so my brain went for the mental equivalent of putting the kettle on, but I did notice that York, who were having a barnstorming run on the buzzer in the last couple of minutes did take a good starter on the RGB colour system . Scottish dukes – would those be the tools of the trade of Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan by any chance ? – were the last bonus set, and proved elusive. The last starter, on the third oldest US university , went begging, and the gong sounded, bringing the match to a close. A comfortable win for New College, by 215 to 145. Crucially they had virtually shut York out of the contest for a good 15 minute period, and in the periods when they were getting starters, York were unable to convert enough of their bonuses. Good show.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Blimey, but JP made us wait for a long time before we got anything worthy of mention in this show. Asked for two of the three counties of the Republic of Ireland beginning with the letter M, a despairing New College affered “Monaghan . . . and . . . Mull. “
”Mull !” spluttered JP . Alright – it wasn’t really much of a JP moment, but believe me, it was the best that we had on this show.

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

Theodore Hook, who launched the publication “John Bull “ (soft, strong and thoroughly absorbent ) also was the first person in the world to send a picture postcard.


jim360 said...

There was a Lot of maths in this show, so for me it would (hopefully!) have been a good question set. A lot of hard stuff to balance that out, too, so props to York for playing their part in other fairly entertaining and high-scoring match.

The average score per match is still not that much more than 300, so well down on last year, so this season it's looking like any team scoring 200 or more is doing well. New College have comfortably passed that twice now, against teams scoring 145 apiece (which is also fairly respectable as a losing score this series). So they look certain to be one of the main contenders this year.

See you on Monday...

Londinius said...

Hi Jim

Yes, I thought that there was a lot of Maths, but there we are, something for everyone. I agree about the average scores, and that New College will be one of the teams to watch in this year's qurters.

Jack said...

I'd say this match was much closer than that final score suggests. It's a shame that York fell silent in the third quarter, as they could well have taken it to the wire if they hadn't.

New College are definitely a strong team, Messrs Hood and Cappleman in particular have been strong so far. Both answered five correct starters, which helped the side to 17/39 bonuses. Miss Woods and Mr Haynes both got three starters each for York, who got 11/27 bonuses.

So, on Monday, James and co. (best of luck to them, once again) will be playing Warwick; then St George's vs Lancaster the week after.

jtrc500 said...

Hi there, regular reader, first-time commenter.

As a York student, I was obviously hoping for a win on Monday night - but it is abundantly clear that New College are one of the strongest teams in this years competition - I can see them making the semi-finals at least. The York side certainly didn't do badly, but as you say, they were just buzzed out of the game in the middle-period.

There was definitely an above average amount of maths questions this week, which as a maths student suited me fine ... but the major problem with questions such as the bonuses on Monday is that they're impossible to have an educated guess if you haven't studied maths to a reasonably high level. (Unless of you're of the school of guessing 0 or 1 to every such question, I suppose).

I agree with Jim though that it was a good question set, overall, challenging and varied but without falling into the "obscurity for the sake of obscurity" problem that has plagued some episodes this series.

Am interested to see Monday's game...


jtrc500 said...

By the way, small point, but's it Robin Virgo I believe, not Richard :)

Londinius said...

Hi jtrc500 - thanks for the heads up - I think I've corrected it now. I'm tempted to say it has now become a case of Robin Of York Gave Battle In Vain - but that would be silly, so I won't. Robin - if by any chance you're reading I can only apologise.

TomC said...

Some insight on bits you didn't see for this episode:

You were right about Andy Hood and Milton Friedman - on the way up to the show Andy had actually said that the answer to any question on monetary policy is always Friedman, and so it was.

At the end of a 4 day block of filming Jeremy was clearly getting tired. He managed to mishear one of Hood's answers and give the points until Andy owned up (though York's captain had clearly heard correctly and was glaring across). Jeremy also thought that the distance to the centre of the earth and the radius of the earth were different things, until both teams persuaded him he was wrong.

New College actually own the house that Edmund Halley lived in when he identified his comet, so was embarrassing for the other team to get it (and with a set of maths bonuses after it, the New College score could have been up by another 25 points)

jim360 said...

That's always the way, Tom - a nice performance by the way - I swear the other team we play has always got the bonus sets I know the answers to. Such is the lack of fairness... we were plagued by it in our first-round match almost ever bonus set!

Well done on making the quarters, will be interesting to see how far you go from here.