Tuesday, 27 August 2013

University Challenge - Round One - Match 7

Brasenose College, Oxford v. Manchester

In many people’s eyes Brasenose drew the short straw having to face Manchester in the first round. Manchester have made something of a speciality of winning this competition, and are in fact going for their hattrick of consecutive wins this year. Whatever the magic formula is they seem to have found it, a fact that JP alluded to in his opening remarks. Looking at it from the other side of the coin, though, is the fact that this Manchester team must feel tremendous pressure considering what their immediate predecessors have done. Whatever the case, Brasenose introduced themselves first, and the team were Joshua Phillips, James Burt, Turner Edwards, and their captain Ben Ralph. The Manchester team consisted of Ed Woudhuysen, Joe Day, Jonathan Collins and their captain Elizabeth Mitchell. On with the show.

Turner Edwards opened the Brasenose account, knowing that Paul Durand Ruel was particularly associated with the Impressionists – that’s Monet and co, not Bremner and co. Bonuses on US political figures born in 1913 was a nice set to start with, and they managed two , missing out on Jimmy Hoffa. Jonathan Collins knew that Paul Johnson wrote an essay on the fictional character James Bond, and was none too complimentary about him either. This won Manchester their first set of bonuses on the novel ‘We’ by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Manchester managed one, but a full set for me meant that we were 8 questions in, and I was yet to drop one. That was coming, though, don’t you worry about that. Something about triangles and hypotenuses came next. I didn’t get it, neither did either team.A good early buzz from Johnathan Collins took the starter which asked for the knowledge that the Boilerhouse Project became the Design Museum.The set of bonuses on inventions and medical procedures pioneered in Ireland or by Irish people only yielded one correct answer. For the first picture starter we were shown a diagram of the seating plan for an orchestra. It was skipper Elizabeth Mitchell who correctly identified where the violins would sit. More of the same followed for the bonuses brought them another ten points for two correct answers. James Burt came in with the answer of slush fund on a good early buzz for the next starter. A full set on Mathematics bonuses took the Brasenose total to 45, just 5 points behind Manchester at the 10 minute mark.

Ben Ralph knew that Matthew Syed, author of Bounce – The Myth of Talent and The Power of Practice ( brilliant book – if you haven’t read it – do ) – competed at table tennis. When he said Ping pong for some reason there was no reaction to his answer, so he had to qualify it with table tennis. Another of those nice sets of places which each begin with a greek letter – for example Taunton – Tau was to follow. They managed two, but missed on Nullarbor Plain and Nuremberg – Nu. Still, it was enough to give them the lead. Right, the next question asked for the condition whose name is derived from the greek for half skull. The answer,as given by Ed Woudhuysen was migraine. Would they have accepted hemicrania, I wonder, which is the actual Greek, and the medical term as well? I’m glad to say that I don’t tend to get the nausea with it, just the headaches and the visuals, which is quite enough, thanks all the same. Bonuses on Gloria Steinem eluded them, and the Brasenose lead, although reduced, held for the time being. The next starter was a good old opera chestnut, if there should be such a thing. Asked what the Italian title of the opera rendered into English as “Women Are Like That” – I’ve heard it asked as ‘thus do they all’ – or ‘they’re all at it’ or variations on the same theme – Ben Ralph took a stab at Cosi Fan Tutte and hit a bullseye. Given a gettable set on musicals they managed one bonus. At this stage of the competition it was a tense affair, certainly, with neither team quite managing to capitalize with their bonuses. At the same time as I shouted ‘amethyst’ when JP asked for a variety of quartz with a deep purple colour, Elizabeth Mitchell buzzed in early with the same answer. Bonuses on chemistry meant nowt to me, but a couple of bonuses brought the teams level, as we went on to the music starter. A fantastically quick buzz from Elizabeth Mitchell earned her 10 points for recognizing Colin Firth’s warbling from the film of Mamma Mia. Given more actors giving it a go in film musicals, I just knew that either Lee Marvin or Clint Eastwood from Paint Your Wagon would be coming. As it happened, it was Clint. Michael Medved said that they could have advertised the film with the tag line “Dirty Harry Sings!” This was the only one that Manchester missed, and they had taken back the lead. Ah, the innocents of both teams failed to see that a Steve Jones quote about a human activity he called ‘the great leveller’ referred to sex. A good buzz from Joe Day saw him correctly answer that the Roman empire reached its greatest extent under the emperor Trajan. The team managed 2 bonuses on countries bordering Iran. Joe Day buzzed in just too early on the next starter. Asked about the chemical symbols for Uranium and Animonty when combined he knew you get USB. Ah, but the fiendish question wanted to know what it stands for – Universal Serial Bus as any regular quizzer can tell you ( though for heaven’s sake don’t ask what it actually does! ). Brasenose couldn’t get it, and so this meant that Manchester led by 110 to 80. Not a winning lead, but it was noticeable that Manchester had been making all the running for the last 5 minutes. Brasenose would need to find momentum from somewhere.

James Burt knew about the Malacca Strait, and Brasenose were scoring again. Bonuses on fictional characters and the real people they were based on or inspired by yielded them nothing, and we moved on to the second picture starter. Nobody recognized David Haig playing Jim Hacker in the remake of Yes Prime Minister. Not surprised. He’s a fine performer, but you can’t, and probably shouldn’t even try to improve on perfection. Elizabeth Mitchell won the buzzer race to announce Titian as the venetian artist who gave his name to a hair colour. This brought Manchester the fictional politician picture bonuses. They managed two, but couldn’t dredge up the title of The New Statesman. Joe Day knew that you get 57 degrees to one radian. Nope, me neither. Three bonuses on the outbreak of World War I brought their total to 155, a lead of 60, and this did now look like a decisive lead. Turner Edwards recognized a succession of heroines created by Edith Wharton, which took Brasenose into three figures. I loved the set of bonuses on English football clubs that have been runners up in the football league, but never won it. They managed one of them. A nice starter saw Jonathan Collins answer that the northernmost towns of England and Scotland – Berwick and , er , Wick ? – are linked by the letters – er – wick. Bonuses on the letter M in science ( there’s no letter M in Science the way that I spell it, but I digress ) – pushed Manchester’s score to 175. The increasingly effective Joe Day knew that Beethoven was born in Bonn . Bonuses on Wagner – that’s the composer, not the X-Factor contestant of years gone by – brought another 10 points. In another rgood old UC chestnuit, Ed Woudhysen knew that if the words “speech . . . 1946 . . . Stettin . . . Balkans” are uttered, then you’ve got to go for it with Trieste. Animal behaviour brought them two bonuses. That was pretty much it. JP started a question about what I think was Graham’s Law, but the gong prevented us from finding out.

The score was Manchester 215 – Brasenose 105. A convincing win on paper, which denies Brasenose any chance of going further. Still, they can take consolation from the fact that it was a real contest up until the last 7 or 8 minutes. Well played Manchester – good luck in the 2nd round.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP kicked off with a wigging for Ben Ralph for buzzing in but not answering straightaway. Small stuff, but we could only hope that he was just warming up.
When Manchester suggested that Gloria Steinem had worked undercover as a waitress in the Pentagon he replied, “No, the New York City Playboy Club. Not dissimilar, I agree.” Satire, even!
This wasn’t the last of it, either. When Elizabeth Mitchell quickly identified the dulcet tones of Colin Firth in Mamma Mia he replied, “You’re obviously a fan. . . Don’t know why – he just about made it through unscathed, I thought.” I don’t know, can you see JP dancing in the aisles of his local fleapit during the late showing of Mamma Mia?
We did get to see a glimpse of the iron fist within the velvet glove when Brasenose offered Sally for Sally Bowles. “I need more, “ said our hero, then “and I need it now!”
The sledgehammer of his sarcasm descended when the Manchester team offered the Mastersinger of Nuremburg as the opera about a song contest in Wartburg ( then again, maybe it WAS that Wagner) . “No . . . That’s obviously in Nuremberg!!!”

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

The term slush fund originated from the practice of cooks collecting money from the sale of fat, grease and watery food.


Jack said...

Brasenose definitely managed a respectable showing, given that, until last year, most of the teams Manchester have defeated in the first round have failed to reach three figures. It wasn't really until the final stretch that Manchester pulled away to win comfortably.

It's a shame, as Brasenose were decent enough a team, but they just got outdone on the buzzer late on. Against another team, they may well have done better.

But a good first effort from Manchester; definitely a better start to the series than last year's lot had! We'll have to see if this lot's ending is as good as theirs.

In terms of bonuses, Brasenose got 9/18, while Manchester managed 20/36 (with one penalty), both respectable scores.

Next week, Keele take on Liverpool.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Yes, it was one of those shows where one team suddenly manages to find a second gear, and leaves the opposition trialing even though two thirds of the contest has been pretty evening.

First round form is a notoriously unreliable guide, so It's difficult to draw any conclusions from this. As I said, Manchester improved on the buzzer in the last part of the show, and it will be interesting to see whether this gives them the confidence to start the next round in the same way they finished this show.