Loughborough v Clare, Cambridge
After a slow start with the first couple of heats this series has really taken off in the last couple of shows. So the omens were good for another interesting contest. Loughborough were making their second appearance of the Paxman era, having previously lost narrowly to St. John’s Cambridge in the second round in 2010. This year Loughborough’s team consisted of Ally Thornton, Kathy Morten, Kate Spalding, and Captain Grant Craig.
This is Clare’s 4th tilt at the title of the Paxman era. They last appeared in 2012, when they reached the quarter final stage. Their team were Tom Watson, Carys Redman-White, Mark Chonofsky and the skipper Tom Wright. Enough said – let’s get cracking.
The Clare skipper opened his team’s account with a good early buzz for the first starter, knowing that several sportsmen all share epithets containing the word ‘flying’. A full set of bonuses on Oliver Cromwell gave them the best possible start. Tom Wright came in too quickly for the next starter, incorrectly identifying Peter Mandelson as the author of ‘Last Man Standing’. Given the full question Grant Craig knew it was Jack Straw. Loughborough managed a bonus on Monet, which meant that they were five points behind at this stage. Mark Chonofsky knew that the beast of burden which is the last two letters of an infectious disease is ox. They took two bonuses on Robert Hooke. The painting, ‘The Raft of the Medusa’, is something of an old UC chestnut, but neither team knew that it was the work of Gericault. In the same vein, neither team knew that Shakespeare’s Richard III says “I am not in the giving mood today”. I didn’t either. Tom Wright knew that the language most likely to be written on a Sikh temple is Punjabi – good shout, that. A good UC set followed with pairs of people sharing the same surname – and in each pair one of them turned out to be a 2012 Olympic gold medalist. Clare missed Wales’ finest, Taekwondo gold medalist Jade Jones, but they had the other two sets. The picture set started with the crest of Newcastle United. Once again, the Clare skipper was first to the buzzer. The bonuses showed three more crests, each of which had been promoted to the Premier League in the last three seasons. Clare took all three. Ally Thornton struck for Loughborough on a question about ohms, amps and watts. It’s ironic that, given that Loughborough had metaphorically speaking woken up now, they were granted bonuses on sleep.A full set raised their score to 40, while Clare were comfortably in the lead with 85 at the ten minute mark.
Ally Thornton buzzed early for his second consecutive starter, knowing that the soon to be Sir Bradley Wiggins spoke of drawing the raffle tickets immediately after the final stage of the 2012 Tour de France. Women in Men’s clothes brought them another two bonuses, which cut the deficit to a single set. Neither team could quite manage to complete the Peter Pan quote beginning , “To die will be “ with the words “An Awfully Big Adventure”. Both teams thought themselves into knots on the next starter. It asked them to work out the city, the name for whose inhabitants is an anagram of the French for the analgesic made from salycilic acid. Got that? It is a little confusing. They had that it was aspirine, but gave the name for the inhabitant rather than the city. Ally Thornton, doing a sterling job for his team, took the next starter, knowing that algor mortis refers to the reduction in body temperature of a deceased body. Restoration drama was not one of Loughborough’s areas of expertise, and they failed to take any of the set of bonuses thereon. The music starter brought Ally Thornton his fourth starter when he was the first to recognize “Mr. Blue Sky” by the ELO. Bonuses followed on three other groups using string sections in one of their well known works . Like Loughborough, the only one I correctly answered was Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve. Still, that was enough to bring them up level with Clare. Good game. Chancing his arm Ally Thornton tried Orkney Mainland for the next Scottish island down in size after Shetland Mainland. but this was incorrect. Tom Wright suggested Mull, correctly, pushing his team back into the lead. A good set of words which begin with a greek letter – for example PHIlately and MUesli – brought a full set . Something about Kepler’s third Law and orbits didn’t mean a great deal to me, but Mark Chonofsky knew that the answer was 3/2. One Physics bonus followed. Grant Craig knew that Debussy composed La Mer. One bonus on place names beginning with –mur – was taken. The second picture starter showed a painting. Asked for the name of the artist neither team could supply Titian.
As Titian was mixing rose madder
His model posed nude on a ladder
Her position, to Titian
So he climbed up the ladder and ‘ad ‘er.
Apologies, a slight attack of the limericks, there. At the 20 minute mark Clare led by 125 to 100. All to play for, and both teams were in a position to post scores good enough to give them a good chance of a repechage slot.
Neither team knew about Boolean algebra. A fine shout from Mark Chonofsky identified several US presidents as whigs. This gave Clare the painting bonuses, of which they managed two. Tom Wright won the buzzer race for one of the gentler starters of the evening, knowing that Connacht and Munster are the other two provinces of Ireland with Ulster and Leinster. 2 bonuses followed on Old Testament figures. At 165 Clare were already knocking on the door of at least a repechage spot. Grant Craig knew that the Ostwald process produces nitric acid. 2 bonuses on new world monkeys brought Loughborough to 120, still some way from safety. Grant Craig knew that if a question has the words ‘dark heavy wood’ in it, more often than not ebony will be the answer. It was this time. Gloucester Cathedral brought 1 bonus, enough to take Loughborough to 135. The win was not impossible, and looked even more possible when Grant Craig took the next starter recognizing two definitions of the word ensign. A full set of bonuses on the British – American War of 1812 brought them to 160, just 5 points behind, and themselves now in with a shout of a repechage place. Neither team knew that a square mile is roughly equivalent to 259 hectares. A mathematics thing which I didn’t understand followed, and Mark Chonofsky had it. 2 bonuses on wool were enough to take Clare to 180, pretty much guaranteeing their continued presence in the competition. Grant Craig took a flyer with the next starter, buzzing in early to identify the second president of the Weimar Republic, and losing 5. Clare couldn’t dredge up Hindenburg, and so we moved on to the next starter. The impressive Tom Wright knew a series of works all linked by the word beach. Islands of Sumatra, the last set of bonuses, did not allow them to add to their score of 195 before the gong.
It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Loughborough for that last unlucky buzz. They wouldn’t have won, but even so, for some reason 160 looks to be a more likely repechage score than 155, even though it’s only 5 points difference. Well done to Clare – good luck in the next round.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
After being exceptionally well behaved for the last few weeks, JP gave signs that he was chafing at the bit with the Madeleine Pelletier question. When Loughborough answered Marie Stopes – and let’s be honest, that’s not a stupid answer at all, he merely stayed looking down at the card, while his shoulders began to shake, and he fought to master his mirth.
With the awfully big adventure question JP seemed uncharacteristically confused, saying to Kate Spalding, who had been very close to the correct answer, “You were right. . . well you were wrong, but you were close. Sorry!” All of which goes to disprove the old adage that being Jeremy Paxman means never having to say you’re sorry.
He was in a funny mood, JP. Asked something about the name given to something in Physics, Clare, who, like me, didn’t have a Scooby, offered ‘Jeff’. This really tickled our Jez, who laughed and replied – If Only it were, eh? Much more of this kind of bonhomie and they’ll have him presenting something like Pets Make Prizes.
Mind you, if there were any danger of that, the picture starter did for it. Given a tentative guess of Heironymus Bosch our hero leaned theatrically closer to his screen as if studying the picture in disbelief before snapping “It doesn’t look the slightest bit like Heironymus Bosch! No!” Ah – the man himself is back in town.
Capping a good performance, the man signed off by complimenting Clare upon their stoat mascot. Well, quite.
Interesting Fact That I Did Not Already Know Of The Week
Boole – who gives his name to the algebra of logic basic to the design of digital computer circuits – was actually born in Lincoln in the early 19th century.