Saturday, 30 March 2013

University Challenge - Quarter Final Elimination Match

Pembroke College Cambridge v. King's College Cambridge

Right, despite JP’s opening comments the implications of this match were simple. Win and you go through to a final qualification match for a place in the semis. Lose and you leave with nothing. In this all Cambridge match Pembroke, represented by Robert Scanes, Emily Maw, Jemima Hodkinson and their captain Tom Foxall were well beaten by St. George’s. In their own first quarter final match King’s, represented by Curtis Gallant, Amber Ace, our own James Gratrex and captain Fran Middleton had allowed New College Oxford to sprint off to a big lead, before just failing to reel them in. On paper, a difficult match to call.

Tom Foxall buzzed too early on the first question, Losing Pembroke five. The question gave a series of terms all linked by the word classical, as our own James Gratrex knew. This earned King’s bonuses on the year 1565. They answered 2 correctly, the same two that I answered, as it happened. Curtis Gallant buzzed early on Prime Ministers of Australia, and earned a set on culinary herbs for his pains. Only one was answered, but King’s were for once making a blitz start. Nobody knew about Kevlar for the next starter, nor did they know that it was mary Queen of Scots who was the British monarch executed in 1587. Maw buzzed in too early on the next starter on Geometry, losing 5, which allowed James G. in with the correct answer of hyperbola. Recent works on Economics did nothing for me, and I’m afraid they did nothing for King’s either. Didn’t matter. They were in the lead, and it was a lead that was growing. For the picture starter we saw a former flag of Iraq. Former flags – great idea for a set, but the set was going to have to wait, because nobody got it. Me neither, sad to say. Tom Foxall got his team off the mark by recognising titles of novels by Italo Calvino. The only work by Calvino I’ve ever read is a very beautiful short story called “A sign in space”. I digress. This brought Pembroke back to zero, and earned them the former flag bonuses. I thought they id brilliantly to get the first of these, Macedonia. Fran Middleton knew that it was JMW Turner who said “If I could find anything blacker than black I’d use it” . Yes, and if my Auntie had . . . This earned bonuses on the parody - The History of England – written by Jane Austen when she was 15 years old, from which the team had to guess the names of the monarchs to which she was referring.I picked out Edward IV and Richard III, while King’s managed just the latter. This was enough to give them a healthy looking lead of 60 points to 5 at the ten minute mark.

James knew that the christian name George was shared by two presidents inaugurated two centuries, plus or minus one year apart. Washington and Bush Snr. The good old Shipping Forecast came next, with sets of areas, and the one they surrounded being needed. The team didn’t fancy this but at least managed one with Cromarty.Curtis Gallant knew that Darwin had also made observations of mockingbirds as well as Galapagos finches. A very good early buzz that – and if you want to demoralize your opposition who are already watching you recede into the distance, then that’s the way to do it. Bonuses on ancient peoples increased the lead by another ten. Nobody knew that Chekov once said that Medicine was his wife, and Literature was his mistress. I wonder if Captain Kirk knew? Sorry – cheap joke. Neither team knew it, but sadly Pembroke buzzed in too early and lost 5. I really don’t blame them. There was time left to bridge the gap, but when you’re being beaten to the buzzer then you have to throw caution to the winds and go for it. Amber Ace recognized a quotation from King Lear. I’ll be honest, the distribution bonuses did nowt for me, nor for King’s for that matter. Oh dear, the dreaded “Pembroke there’s still plenty of time to get going “ came next. I know that he only means to be kind, but you know you’re really up against it when JP feels that he has to say something like this to you.On with the music starter. James recognized Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring very quickly. The bonuses were on other émigré composers.On the third we were treated to what I’m sure was a little excerpt of Nina Simone – one of my all time favourite singers. It didn’t help King’s though, as they didn’t get any of the bonuses. Never mind – they had a lead of over 100 points. Amber Ace knew that the kaleidoscope takes its name from greek words meaning beautiful form. A good UC set of bonuses on pairs of words whereby one letter from the first was doubled to get the second – moping and mopping being one. 2 were taken. A physicsy sort of thing came next, and Robert Scanes had it. Once again Pembroke were on the march. Their set of bonuses were on ballet and they managed one for pas de chat. Tom Foxall knew that if Mount Arthur and Mount Owen aren’t in Australia, as offered by King’s, then they must be in New Zealand. He was right, and this earned Pembroke some bonuses on the subject of neuro pharmocology. Pembroke took the whole set, and the gap was now less than 100 points. This raised the distinct possibility of a comeback, and a grandstand finish. Jemima Hodkinson took the next starter on the heraldic office of pursuivant, which made this seem even more likely. A full set of bonuses on odes further narrowed the gap, to 70 points at the twenty minute mark, thus showing just how important it is to take your bonuses when you get the chance.

The second picture starter showed part of a picture from a title page of a book. It absolutely screamed out William Blake – but which collection of poems. Jemima Hodkinson chanced her arm with Songs of Innocence and Experience, and she was right. Three more illuminations from this collection were offered as bonuses, with the team being asked which poems they illustrated. I was pleased with myself for getting “London” and “The Sick Rose”, while Pembroke missed these, but got “The Poison Tree” which I missed. The gap was down to 55. Robert Scanes was in too early for the next starter, asking what fruit botryoidal rocks resemble. I had it knowing that grapes suffer sometimes from a disease with a similar name. Robert Scanes recognized a political organization dedicated to ending Moroccan control of Western Sahara. Italian composers didn’t offer a great deal. I knew opera buffa and The Barber of Seville, but Pembroke failed to score. Pembroke were throwing everything including the kitchen sink at each starter now, but lost five for an early buzz on the next starter. King’s didn’t fancy their chances, so didn’t have a punt at shoo-fly pie. Tom Foxall knew that the French Third Republic began in 1871 and ended in 1940. Gothic literature saw them make the easy mistake of confusing Radcliffe’s “The Mysteries of Udolpho” with Walpole’s “The Castle of Otranto”. They took one bonus. The gap was down to 40. They were clawing it back, but not quickly enough, and desperately needed a full set to give them a turbo boost and a chance of winning. Robert Scanes did the first part by getting the next starter, correctly answering that the VC was inaugurated during the 1850s. Physical Principles didn’t help them that much, though, since they only managed one. Which incidentally took the gap down to 25. A fulls et would bring the two sides absolutely level. It seemed like an awfully long time since King’s had taken a starter. Squeaky bum time, to quote Sir Alex Ferguson. Fran Middleton did the necessary for her team, knowing that the atomic number of magnesium is 12. A nice set of bonuses on prominent people with Paris metro stations named after them gave King’s another 5 points. Robert Scanes knew that the Royal Observatory moved to Herstmonceux Castle. Books by US Presidents didn’t offer a great deal, though, with Pembroke only taking one . Robert Scanes, who had had a brilliant 10 minutes, answered the next starter correctly with electro negativity. Amber Ace held her head in her hands. Bonuses on place names which all ended with the same three letters were heartbreakingly unforgiving, and so the gap remained at 15. The gong was on standby. Asked which name has been used most often by the Pope, Curtis Gallant was first to try his arm with Paul. No dice. Tom Foxall tried Leo. Nope – it was John. The gong sounded, and Curtis Gallant raised his arms – in triumph or relief ? Probably both. Very bad luck Pembroke, but congratulations on a terrific fightback. Hold your heads high after that one. But well done Jim and King’s ! Good luck in your final quarter final match.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

He was in a funny old mood in this show, was JP. He sniffed in mock indignation “You don’t know the Greek for bedbug – I’m astonished !”
When offered the name “Richard Blanchflower” for one economics bonus asking for an American economist he was rather dismissive “Noooooo – he’s British anyway.” Stop showing off Jez.
When James offered “Cromarty” for two successive shipping forecast bonuses he was right on the second go, leading JP to mutter “You’ve no idea where it is, have you?!”
On the Chekov starter Fran Middleton offered Ibsen for the Russian author, then realized what she’d done and started to correct herself, but JP cut in with “No no, you’re QUITE wrong!” he was chuckling, but let’s be honest, this one certainly wasn’t in the same class as Inspector Clouseau earlier in the series.
I thought he was rather nasty in saying to Amber Ace, when she offered pear for the botyroidal starter “No, I’m amazed! You’re a classicist, aren’t you?!” Yes she is, but you, sir are no gentleman!
Finally, after coming so close to tying the match at the end, poor old Pembroke had salt rubbed in their wounds with JPs words “You know, if you’d have got off to a better start you might have won that.” I refer you to my previous comment about my auntie.

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

The herb coriander takes its name from the Greek for bedbug, since its scent was believed to resemble that of crushed bedbugs. which begs the question – what were the ancient Greeks doing crushing bedbugs in the first place?


jim360 said...

I don't remember that "No idea where [Cromarty] is" comment, but it's certainly true. I'm sure I've heard that it's near Forties but no idea where that is either! One of these days I must learn the Shipping Forecast map more accurately.

The ending was horrifying, having been so far ahead, although for me at least there wasn't much I knew anyway in the last half so fair enough to Pembroke, at least they didn't allow a bad start to stop them from saying anything. I fell asleep on that Physics starter that Scanes got to get Pembroke rolling again - for all its waffle it's really just asking what is 3+3! - because, I think, at the time I'd stupidly thought that the match was already over. As Pembroke showed it was anything but!

I did actually know Mary Queen of Scots for 1587 but was beaten to the buzzer twice - once by Pembroke's wrong Mary I, though that was another slip of the tongue I think as he knew it was wrong once he said it, and once by my own team! Oh well. Didn't make much difference in the end.

The next two weeks see Manchester face St. George's, and King's College against Bangor, fighting for the last two semi-final spots. Bangor's own Nina Grant and Adam Pearce have commented on here too - divided loyalties for our bloggers?

See you on two Mondays' time...

Jack said...

Divided loyalty? Yes James, I will be thoroughly impartial when that match comes in a couple of weeks. Best of luck to both teams for it!

Fair play to Pembroke for so nearly pulling it off after such a bad start, though. Had it not been for the five penalties they incurred, they'd have done it: they got 12/30 bonuses to the 10/30 King's managed. It was that close! Robert Scanes led for Pembroke with five starters, while our man James got four for King's.

One other quirk of the draw for the play-offs, apart from the two 'blog reader' teams clashing, is that, for the first time under this QF system, a team that lost a preliminary (and would've gone out were it a simple knockout) is guaranteed to reach the semis. Likewise, a team that won their preliminary is guaranteed not to. (Sorry if that was a bit confusing)

Londinius said...

Hi Jim

Congratulations! That was certainly a test of nerves! I did wonder whether you would end up playing against Adam's Bangor team. How sad that one of your teams will be going out . Out of fairness I shan't be burdening either team with the curse of the Clark sofa, and I wish you both the best of luck.

Hi Jack,

AS much as it's a great shame we'll be losing either Bangor or King's, it's also a shame that either Manchester or St. George's will be going as well. Both teams have been highly impressive at different times during the competition - I can't call it.


jim360 said...

Nice observation there Jack! I'd thought it was always done like that, but no this is the first time indeed that two of the losers in the first quarter-finals face each other off.

HughTube said...

Did anyone notice the mistake in the music round? They described Schoenberg as German, when perhaps the second most well-known thing about him is that he's Viennese. It sounded to me like Schoenberg was rejected partly for that reason and partly as it was an earlier work (Verklärte Nacht?) rather than a twelve tone piece. Getting the biographical information wrong when it was extremely unlikely the team would recognise the music made it a pretty bad error in my eyes.