Thursday, 8 August 2013

University Challenge - Round One - Match 4 - Durham v. Queens' Cambridge

Durham v. Queens’ Cambridge

Last week we saw one of the best first round performances we’ve seen for a while from Trinity, Cambridge. It was asking a lot to expect either of these teams to match those standards. Still, both have performed well in UC in the past. Durham have twice been champions, during both Bamber and Paxman eras, the last time being in 2000. This year’s team were Alex Richards, Daniel Hulme, Oliver Burnham and their captain Matt Mackenzie. Queens’ College have never quite won the big one, but they’d been close. Back in 1980 a young Stephen Fry was part of the Queens’ team that contested a 3 legged final with Merton, Oxford, winning the first, but eventually going down 2 – 1. This year’s team were Paul Merchant, Rachel Gregory, David Phillips, and captain Rhys Jackson-Jones. Let’s get on with the show.

I liked the first starter a lot. When JP gave us a couple of titles of Mathematical works published in the 1870s I thought that this was going to be a lot harder than it worked out to be. As soon as he said that they were written by a literary figure known for his children’s books it became a lot clearer. Alex Richards had a stab at it, as did David Phillips, but neither knew that Lewis Carroll had taught Mathematics at Oxford. Paul Merhcant buzzed in early for the next starter, knowing that the phrase ‘Big Bang’ was originally a derogatory term for the theory. An interesting set on Oscar Wilde and cigarettes followed, and Queens’ managed two of them. Oliver Burnham knew that blancmange was originally a savoury chicken dish. Makes you wonder what spotted dick meant at the same time, but I digress. Durham received bonuses on the Office of US Secretary to the Treasury, and took a good full set. The next starter was an early UC Special, which asked for the last two letters linking a set of words. The first – a European who amassed a fortune working for the East India Company – I knew as nabob, so the answer must be –ob. The giant spider in The Lord of the Rings is Shelob , and that was enough to give it to the Durham skipper Matt Mackenzie. I’ll be honest, a set of bonuses on oceanography didn’t seem to promise me a lot, and that’s exactly what it delivered. Durham managed 1. In the first picture starter we saw a map of the regions of Italy, and Alex Richards correctly identified the highlighted area of Lombardy. They managed 2 of them. David Phillips struck back for Queens’ recognizing several definition of the word ‘degree’. Unseen fictional characters was a nice set of bonuses, and Queens’ managed the last of them. Neither team recognized a list of names that appear in Chinese tea lists. All of which brought us conveniently to the ten minute mark. Although Durham led by 60 – 35, both teams had been fairly lively on the buzzer, and it was shaping up for a good little contest.

Rhys Jackson-Jones knew that the 1818 novel subtitled “The Modern Prometheus” was “Frankenstein”, but gave the name of the creator, Frankenstein, when the monster himself was required. He’s not the first to do that, and he certainly won’t be the last. This allowed Matt Mackenzie to swoop in for a steal. A full set of bonuses on nutmeg suited them very nicely, thank you very much. Don’t ask me how, but when JP asked something about a ratio involved in a tesseract. I plumped for 16:1. Imagine my surprise when David Phillips buzzed in with the same answer, and it was right! it wasn’t quite a lap of honour around the living room moment, but it wasn’t far off. I enjoyed the set on reviewese which followed, and Durham managed 2 of them. Nobody knew that the colonial administrator Lugard was particularly associated with Nigeria. A second starter went begging when nobody knew that the earwig is a member of the dermaptera class of insects. Not surprised. Matt Mackenzie was the first to buzz in to accept the relative gift of spelling the word ascetic. You do get some sitters occasionally on the show, but then you have to be quick enough on the buzzer to take them. A set of bonuses on radio telescopy projects offered little, but Durham still managed one of them. For the music starter we heard Brham’s Lullaby, but both teams rather dwelt on the buzzer before Paul merchant supplied the correct answer. The bonuses were rather nice. JP gave us a quote from Tchaikovsky that Brahms was “a giftless bastard” – and this before the watershed, mark you. Oh, those Russians. (Boney M. – ‘Rasputin’ in case you’re wondering.)We heard three more pieces, and each was accompanied by a peer review. What a catty bunch! Rossini apparently said of Wagner “You can’t judge his music from a single hearing, and I certainly don’t intend listening to it a second time.” All three pieces were pretty well known, but Queens’ managed just one of them. Paul Merchant, who was having a good little spell on the buzzer, was the first in with the answer that Dutch is an official language in East Timor. A nice UC special set on words followed. What was required was a pair of words which only differed in the addition of a letter B to the original word. So, for example, old becomes bold. This full set narrowed the gap to just 5 points. Paul Merchant completed his hat trick, knowing that if the question mentions “genre” and “Arthur C. Clarke” then you’re going to be right a lot more often than wrong by saying Science Fiction. Bonuses followed on people of things described as iconic ( surely they put is as inocic) in the Guardian during 2012, and a full set meant that now, at the 20 minute mark, Queens’ led by 120 to 100. What a good match this was turning out to be.

It was that man Paul merchant who took the next starter, knowing that Wilberforce ( - upon Hull), Bob Marley (Jamaica) and Three Men in A Boat (-upon Thames) were all linked by the word Kingston. Queens’ took two bonuses on marine mammals, only missing out on a bit of an old quiz chestnut, by not remembering that dugongs are the other member of the mammal family including the manatees. See if you can guess who buzzed in to identify a photograph of Ernest Hemingway. Paul Merchant? Go to the top of the class. He was playing a bit of a blinder in this second half of the show. I’ll be honest, the only one of the ‘lost generation’ writers that I recognized was Scott Fitzgerald, just the same as Queens’. Now, at 155 points scored Queens’ were looking good value for a place in the repechage at least. Durham weren’t out of it, but had been shut out for the last 4 sets. It would need a good buzz to get them back into it, and that’s exactly what Oliver Burnham produced. From very little of the question he buzzed in with the correct answer of Max Planck. Two bonuses on the Varangians got the Durham express back on the rails. Alex Richards kept it moving by taking the next starter, correctly answering that in Arabic, a valley or channel is a wadi. I knew no more about liverworts than Durham did, still their failure to answer any of the set of botany bonuses left them 25 points behind Queens’. Paul Merchant capped a splendid performance by answering that Fairyhouse and other Irish racecourses are close to Dublin. A great set on MPs followed. Names of MPs were given, and the team had to answer which county, or authority, contained all of their constituencies. A little prompting got the team to narrow down Yorkshire to West Yorkshire, which was enough to ensure that they got two bonuses. This took their score to 175.For the next starter the teams were asked which two countries contested what is referred to as the Winter War. Rachel Gregory buzzed in and answered “Russia and Germany”, and judging from the look on her face she immediately realized what she’d said. Queens’ lost five, and Alex Richards gave the correct answer of USSR and Finland. A couple of bonuses on Queen Elizabeth II took them to 150. Pretty good for a repechage slot, and only 20 points behind Queens’. Matt Mackenzie knew that a pedologist studies soil. 10 points behind now. The first bonus on meteorology was missed, but the second two were taken, and we had a tied game. Time was getting on too. The clock ran down further as neither team could answer a starter about Mashable. No, me neither. David Phillips knew that the smallest prime divisor of 2013 is 3. The grimaces on the faces of the Durham team suggested that they knew the game was up, as Queen’s tackled a set on Geography. 2 bonuses took them to 190, and surely a win. Indeed, the gong sounded before either team could answer that Laius was the father of Oedipus. A terrific show, well played both teams. I hope, and feel fairly confident, that Durham will earn a repechage slot with this performance, and they will be a handful for any team who have to face them. Well played Queens’.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP began the show with his ever popular “The rules are as constant as the Northern Star”.

The show was half over by the time we had anything of any interest. When asked what SKA meant in terms of radio telescopy, Durham offered Special collecting . . . The Paxman nose wrinkled, but rather than shooting them down in flames he merely observed quietly “Rather an odd way of spelling collecting.” Very mild by his standards. It’s rare enough that JP offers praise, so when he does you know that it’s sincere, and so it was gratifying to see Oliver Burnham’s fantastic buzz on Max Planck hailed with “Good interventions.” Indeed it was.

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

When Oscar Wilde asked Sarah Bernhardt whether she minded if he smoked, she replied “Oscar, I don’t mind if you burn.” Quality.


Jack said...

This was certainly a good match. Both sides played a brilliant game, and both deserve to come back one way or another.

On the bonuses, Durham managed 16/27, while Queens' got 19/30, with one penalty. It was the final starter for Queens' that won them the match.

Cromarty(IV) said...

Another very entertaining match. This series is now shaping up extremely well – I was told that it was looking like a “very good series” when I was up at the studios, and this week’s match further substantiates this assessment.

I think this now makes Durham the single university/college with the most appearances on University Challenge since 1994. I hope that, on the evidence of this match, this team have got a lot more to give, because Durham has been very unlucky for the last few years. They lost this game on the final starter question – just like last year’s team!

Londinius said...

Hi Guys
Surely Durham will be through to the repechage on this score. 19/30 really isn't a bad conversion rate at all, so Queens' will be worth keeping an eye on.