Saturday, 23 November 2013

University Challenge - Round Two - Match Three

Clare, Cambridge v. Christ Church, Oxford

Clare’s team of Tom Watson, Carys Redman-White, Mark Chonofsky and the skipper Tom Wright defeated Loughborough by 195 to 160 in the first round. Well, Loughborough were well beaten by Southampton in their repechage match. Christ Church, Oxford represented by George Greenwood, Andreas Capstack, Philip Ostrowski and captain, LAM regular Ewan Macauley, managed to secure a repechage slot despite facing the might of Trinity, Cambridge in their first round match, and then comprehensively beat Durham by 245 to 140 in their own repechage match. A difficult one to call, then.

Buzzer speed, as always, was going to be crucial in this match, and it was Philip Ostrowski who struck fastest for the first answer, Hungarian born financier George Soros. 2 bonuses followed on the UN Security Council. Ewan buzzed in for the second starter, correctly identifying a quotation from H.G.Wells’ novelisation of the classic Jeff Wayne album “War of the Worlds”. The works of Oscar Wilde provided just the one bonus. Mark Chonofsky opened Clare’s account with the next starter, various definitions of the word saddle. As had Christ Church for their two starters, he didn’t wait until the completion of the question. Early signs were that we were looking at a good match. A gettable bonus set on places and their anagrams – for example Algeria and regalia – only yielded one bonus, but never mind, Clare were off and running. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really get the next question, but Mark Chonofsky did, buzzing in early for the second starter running, with the answer “Contrapositive”. Fair enough. This yielded a set of bonuses on complex function theory. Come again? Well, I didn’t get any of them but Clare had 2. Clare’s skipper, Tom Wright, heard the words Greek Mythology – and – Forethought – and did what he had to, which was buzzed straightaway with the name Prometheus. Good buzz. The set of bonuses on New York brought both of us our first full set of the show. Now, for the first picture starter Mark Chonofsky was a little unlucky. We were shown a fictional family tree, and asked to identify the missing family member. It was obviously the second Bennett sister from “Pride and Prejudice”. Mark buzzed in with “Eliza Bennett”. Now, the character is referred to as Eliza Bennett several times in the novel, notably by Miss Bingley, but the correct name was Elizabeth Bennett, as supplied by Ewan Macauley. The bonuses that followed were other similar fictional family trees from Jane Austen. I think it’s fair to say that Jane Austen is not especially to the team’s liking since they failed to trouble the scorer with this set. Still, this rather entertaining set brought us to almost the 10 minute mark, and the contest was shaping up nicely, with Clare leading by 60 to 45.

Andreas Capstack did what you should do, and buzzed in before the end of the question for the next starter, but sadly it was too early and he lost five. This gave Tom Watson his first starter of the night for the term autarchy. Optical illusions eluded Clare. Now – lap of honour round the living room time. Asked what type of things electrons and muons are, I guessed neutrinos and Ewan buzzed in to confirm that I was right. Cell biology brought one bonus to Christ Church. Mark Chonofsky’s early buzz identified 31 radio broadcasts as fireside chats, and the bonuses that followed were on Mells parish church. They passed Clare by as well. Tom Wright won the buzzer race to say that Sam Wanamaker was the driving force behind the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The Orwell Prize for political writing brought two correct answers and took Clare into triple figures. The elastic between the teams was starting to stretch, but George Greenwood pulled it back in knowing a set of space telescopes. Their next set of bonuses was on ions – yuck! – and they managed the first and third of them. This brought us to the music starter, and Tom Watson very quickly recognised the work of Joe Green, or Giuseppi Verdi as they call him in Italy. Three more requiems, and I was surprised that they had the first one wrong. Even if they didn’t recognise Britten’s War Requiem, when you’re told it’s a requiem by a British composer you’ll be right saying Britten a lot more often than you’ll be wrong. Now then, the MOST CONTROVERSIAL MOMENT OF THE SERIES SO FAR!! Well, not really. The setters just made a mistake. You might have seen in the papers that the answer given to the second bonus was Dvorak, but they played some Gregorian plainsong, if I remember correctly. Mistakes happen. They knew that the last was Stravinsky. I didn’t know it, but I guessed from the rather unpleasant sound of it. Some Maths thing with the answer even integers passed all of us by for the next starter. A nice question about men who served as Chancellor before becoming Prime Minister – eg Gordon Brown and John Major followed. I predicted another buzzer dash, and this was won by George Greenwood. This narrowed the gap to 30 points. No bonuses on Robert Hughes kept it that way. Philip Ostrowski won the next sprint with the rhyming answers leek – meek – greek. I did hope that the question might be asking for the answers iron – lion – Zion, but it was not to be. Save that one for another show if you like. The bonuses asked Christ Church to identify European cities from their metro stations. Now, a full set of these meant that the gap was down to a mere 5 points. We weren’t quite at the 20 minute mark, but not far off, and Clare led by 115 to 110. A grandstand finish was surely in prospect.

Mark Chonofsky opened the gap again when he answered that the Emperor Maximilien was supported by Louis Napoleon, which did him naff all good since he was executed by firing squad, as depicted by Manet. That’s the Emperor Maximilien, not Mark Chonofsky. 1 bonus was answered correctly. Nobody recognised a picture by Toulouse Lautrec for the next starter. That man Chonofsky knew the term adiabatic for the next starter, thus earning the horse racing picture bonuses. None of them were taken. A great buzz from Andreas Capstack identified Bahrain as the other Asian country, apart from Singapore, connected to its neighbour by a bridge. Characters on The Tempest saw them take just one, thus risking more Paxman scorn, but this was the last and most important part of the contest, and at this stage JP usually just gets on with it. Neither knew the next starter, which was about works with surgeon in the title. Ho hum. Mark Chonofsky recognised the mnemonic for diatomic elements. A good set of bonuses here could be enough for Clare, but three gettable chances all went begging. With three minutes to go Philip Ostrowski recognised a quote from King Lear and two bonuses on Science narrowed the gap to five. George Greenwood won the buzzer race to identify the Romanovs as the last ruling dynasty of imperial Russia. For the first time for ages Christ Church were in the lead. July 1960 gave them no bonuses. I’m sorry guys, but the Mrs. Bandaranaike one is a real old quiz chestnut. Mark Chonofsky retook the lead saying that there are 1609 metres in a mile – and saying it very quickly as well. Now, bonuses on composers yielded Clare just 5 more points. Which meant that they now led by 10 with just seconds to go. We had time for one more starter, and it was Ewan who answered it, correctly spelling the word facsimile. That was that , the gong sounded, and we had a tie on our hands.

You probably remembered how this works. One more starter is asked. Whoever buzzes in first gets to answer. If a correct answer is given, that person’s team wins. If an incorrect answer is given the other team automatically wins. The question was “Elevators and ailerons are parts which affect the movement of – “ and at this point Tom Wright buzzed in with the answer ‘aeroplanes’. Game over.Very well done Clare for holding your nerve, and desperately bad luck to Christ Church. It’s not much of a consolation, but you played your part in a fabulous match. Well played all.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

There was more than a touch of disbelief in JP’s voice when, after they had failed on the Sense and Sensibility bonus, he asked Christ Church “Have any of you actually read Austen? “ as if disbelieving that anyone could reach adulthood in such a state without spontaneously combusting. When they failed to answer any of the bonuses correctly he added,
”Serves you right! You should read more!”
We’ve seen this before, being an English graduate himself he just hates it when anyone gets an English Literature bonus wrong. It’s a little unfair. You didn’t hear him tell Clare that they should look at things more when they didn’t get any of the optical illusions right, did you!

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

An optical illusion in which a photograph is viewed upside down but with the eyes and mouth in the original orientation is named after Margaret Thatcher.


Jack said...

Well, what a match this was! Two teams that were virtually level all the way through, both in terms of score and performance quality.

The stats: both teams correctly answered 11 starters each; on the bonuses, Clare's rate was 11/33, Christ Church's was 12/31, but with one penalty. That penalty was what leveled the scores.

I agree that Christ Church were highly unlucky; on a few occasions, they missed some bonuses, but did mention the correct answer conferring. Such a shame to lose a team as good and amusing as them so early.

But then, it would've been a shame to lose Clare as well; they played brilliantly, and deserved the win as much as their opponents.

A great match. Lets hope the rest of the series can match the drama of this one.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Yes, a great match, and a shame that we had to lose either team. Nip and tuck doesn't begin to describe it. Not great bonus conversion rates from either team, but that's the kind of match that it was.