Friday, 8 November 2013

University Challenge - Round Two - Match 1

York v. Somerville, Oxford

The first of the second round matches pitted high scoring York against Somerville Oxford, who also scored highly in the first round. This was a difficult match to call on paper. I have to say that I liked the look of the width of knowledge and experience of the Somerville team, but then York had been impressive, and scored a fine bonus conversion rate in their first round heat. York were represented by Greg Carrick, Brian Morley, Laura Kemp, and captain Jeremy Harris, and they had already defeated Bath 270 to 70. Somerville were Hasneen Karbalai, Zach Vermeer, Chris Beer and their skipper Michael Davies, and they defeated Pembroke, Cambridge by 255 to 145 in their heat. Enough of that, and on with the show.

The Somerville skipper took the first starter on a set of definitions of the word minim. Polemics was not a subject category guaranteed to fill me with anticipation for the bonuses. I had just the one, Milton, but Somerville took two. Asked about a massively long fish that feeds on plankton Greg Carrick went for it, but zigged with basking shark, allowing Hasneen Karbalai in to zag with whale shark. It’s just one of those things. You dwell on the buzzer you lose the race, you come in too early and you miss the key piece of info in the question. Now , the set of bonuses on significant messages might have sounded rather familiar to anyone who’s a devotee of Only Connect, since they formed a connection set only a couple of weeks ago. This show was doubtless recorded before that one was broadcast, and so Somerville only managed the first. A real UC special starter followed. Take the word machine – discount letters that are not roman numerals, and what number is represented by the letters that remain? Hasneen Karbalai had it correctly with 1101. Eponymous shapes – me neither – followed, and Somerville took one. Michael Davies was in for the next starter, correctly identifying a quote about the work of Edgar Degas. Didn’t Dustin Hoffman play him in Papillon? I digress. People or other things with the nickname Babe brought just the one correct answer this time. For the picture starter I was happy to identify the county of Fermanagh highlighted on a map of Northern Ireland. Brian Morley opened his team’s account by buzzing in first with the answer. This gave York the chance to try a set of bonuses on three more Northern Ireland districts which share their names with the larger counties. They had all of them. SO York were on the move, and it looked like they would be moving even closer to Somerville when Jeremy Harris buzzed in on the next starter. Asked for two of the world’s six largest landlocked countries, which can be found in Africa , he supplied one of them, Mali, but not another. Michael Davies couldn’t capitalise, for he offered Chad correctly, but Sudan incorrectly. This brought us rather neatly to the 10 minute mark. The advantage was very much with Somerville, who led with 70 to York’s 20.

Zach Vermeer opened his own starter account with the next, recognising Dr. Johnson’s definition of a tory – whoops, bit political there. A nice set of bonuses on the name Arden in literature only yielded a single correct answer, but it doesn’t matter if you’re only getting one bonus a time if you’re winning the buzzer race. Zach Vermeer took his second starter in a row with the German author Hans Fallada. The set of bonuses on parasites surprised me by giving me a full set. That was a fluke, but ironically the fluke was the only one that Somerville didn’t get. Chris Beer was close with his early buzz to put the current best guess of the age of the universe as 13 billion years, but he lost 5 and Greg Carrick came in with the correct answer of 14 billion. York’s bonuses on Maeterlinck provided just the one bonus. On to the music starter. We were given about half a bar of an opera when Zach Vermeer buzzed in to correctly identify that it was from La Traviata. Impressive buzz, that. It was the drinking song, apparently, and three more alcohol fuelled arias followed. It shows my age and also my lack of culture when I have tell you that I still have to remind myself that the Drink, drink, drink one is from the Student Prince, and NOT an advert for Heineken lager ( it actually was once when I was at a young and impressionable age.) Somerville recognised the first two, but don Giovanni passed them by. When you add the number of vertices to the number of faces of a cube or hexahedron, then subtract the number of edges, what number are you left with? I didn’t know, but this sort of thing is meat and drink to good UC teams, and Greg Carrick was first in with 2. Bonuses on the Scottish Hamilton family brought York's score up to 55. They were still a long way behind, but it was early enough for a successful fightback, if they could start to impose themselves on the buzzer with more regularity. They couldn’t with the next starter, as Michael Davies knew about the festival of Kwanzaa. Physicists born on 5th December. Like Somerville the only one that I answered correctly was Heisenberg. Hasneen Karbalai took the next starter for his team, knowing all about a type A personality. The US Presidential elections in 1912 offered a full set, which they were glad to take. So right on the 20 minute mark Somerville had established a triple figure lead, with 160 to York’s 55.

Brian Morley knew that Virginia Woolf’s long lived fictional poet was Orlando. A good UC set on the names of island nations pulled back another ten points of Somerville’s lead. Brian Morley took his second starter in a row by identifying a picture of Niccolo Macchiavelli. Pictures of more figures from the Italian Renaissance brought them two more correct answers. The gap now stood at 65 points. Who else should buzz early to correctly identify St. Louis as the home of the Gateway Arch? Brian Morley, to make his hattrick. A set of bonuses on female Labour Party figures of the 70s saw them once again answer two correctly. Now the gap was down to 45. I was a little surprised that nobody managed to identify the two Geological periods either side of the K-T boundary, when dinosaurs disappeared as the Cretaceous and Tertiary. Showed It was a good contest, mind you, that so little had gone begging up to this point. Once again, I was a little surprised that nobody knew that the element that takes its name from another name for the Goddess Athena is Palladium. The third starter in a row to go begging asked the teams to identify the Tamil word pariah. “Here’s France and Burgundy, my noble Lord.” Who says that line in Shakespeare. That wasn’t actually the question, and it’s one which is difficult to answer since different characters say that line in different editions of the play. Which play? Now that actually was the question, and it was Zach Vermeer who knew the answer. Physics bonuses followed to give Somerville back a lead of 70 points. The PP logo at the start of relevant TV programmes identifies product placement. I didn’t know that, but Laura Kemp did. Lists of host cities of international organisations provided York with two correct answers. This took the gap down to 50, but Time’s winged chariot was busily hurrying near. Chris Beer knew that if you add the number of books in both the Narnia and Harry Potter series you get 14 – 7 apiece. Which reminded me of a set on Only Connect this series as well. Fictitious US states brought 2 bonuses, and pretty much hammered the nail into York’s coffin. Nobody knew the new Master of the Rolls. Michael Davies knew that the Romance language with the most speakers after French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese is Romanian. Suffixes in medical terminology surprised me by giving me a full set. Two of them fell to Somerville. Michael Davies recognised a definition of the word fiasco fir the next starter. Surely there wouldn’t be time for a full set of bonuses, I thought. I was right. The gong allowed JP to introduce a set on the Cannes film festival, but not to ask any of the questions. The final score was 240 to 135 in favour of Somerville. Somerville looked good value for their win. However spare a thought for York. They had a day when they just couldn’t buzz themselves into the match, but they’re no mugs, as could be seen by the way they dealt with the bonuses that they did get, and nothing was cut and dried until the last few minutes.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Our non-voting hero paid tribute to the Somerville team’s prowess in Greek for working out that a chalk lover would be a gypsophile, while not being prepared to allow it as an answer for gypsophila.

On the landlocked countries question when Jeremy Harris supplied one answer he gave him an old fashioned look and said “TWO of them”. He does so hate it when they don’t listen to the question. Being a teacher, I know how he feels.
On the set of Physicists bonuses, when Somerville offered “Rutherford” JP seemed most amused, which seemed a little strange.
His jocularity continued when he described Somerville as “You type A’s over there” after Hasneen Karbalai answered the type A starter correctly. Oh, how we laughed.

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

San Andreas and Albany are fictitious states in Grand Theft Auto


Jack said...

Good match to start the second round. Two teams who were good on both the buzzer and the bonuses (York converted 14/21, Somerville 23/36). But Somerville were just that bit better on the buzzer, hence their victory. Hard luck York, but a very good pair of showings.

We can only hope the rest of the second round will be as good as this. It was a strong start.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack
Yeah, it was a good show, wasn't it? York were never really quite on terms, but at one stage when the gap was closing you started to wonder whether they might just have a purple patch to give them a fighting chance. Somerville will be handful in the quarters if they buzz this well.