Saturday, 22 February 2014

University Challenge - Quarter Final Elimination Match

Cardiff v. Manchester

We’re getting towards the business end of this quarter final stage now. Whichever team lost this match would be out of the competition. Cardiff, in the shape of Eleri Evans, Sara Caputo, Tom Parry-Jones and captain Roderick Lawford, had to battle to win a low scoring match against Exeter by 145 to 95 in the first round. In the second though they showed their class by convincingly beating a useful Liverpool outfit by 230 to 145. In their first quarter final they were well beaten by SOAS, by 200 to 90, and I’m afraid were very much the underdogs in this contest. Manchester, Ed Woudhuysen, Joe Day, Jonathan Collings and their captain Elizabeth Mitchell, knocked out Brasenose in the first round, then comfortably defeated Queens, Cambridge in the second, breaking the 300 point barrier to do so. In their first quarter final match they fought a titanic contest against Trinity, Cambridge, losing out to Trinity’s turbo charged finish. I’ll be honest, I thought Manchester were packing too much firepower for Cardiff, but hey, I’ve been wrong about this sort of thing before.

A long winded first starter eventually resolved itself into the first ever crossword puzzle, and Jonathan Collings was the first in for it. History gave Manchester 1 bonus. Joe Day took Manchester’s second consecutive starter, knowing that, amongst other things, the General Strike took place in 1926. Bonuses on the year 1599 provided another two correct answers. Manchester’s early spurt continued with Jonathan Collings in early to identify various definitions of the word orbit. Particle Physics promised me little or nothing, yet surprisingly I guessed the quark question.. Manchester on the other hand had a full set. That man Collings knew that Renzo Piano collaborated with Richard Rodgers on the Pompidou Centre. Contemporary ballet brought them nothing. Me neither. Still, as we arrived at the first picture starter Manchester had scored 70 unanswered points. Tom Parry-Jones buzzed in to score Cardiff’s first points of the competition by identifying the flag of Ethiopia. Three flags of West African countries containing red, yellow and green followed, and although they were not all easy at all Cardiff took a full set. A nervy early buzz from Joe Day saw him give away five points, when he offered h and e as the first two letters of the name for the order of reptiles containing snakes and lizards. SA? I ventured wrongly. When the other clues were given the only two letters that made sense were sq, but Cardiff were unable to take advantage. So, on the cups of the ten minute mark Manchester led by 65 to 25.

Jonathan Collings, having already had a good evening, buzzed in to identify a series of local government districts in Norfolk and Cumbria. French sporting terms offered a potential full set, but parc fermé eluded Manchester as did the lantern rouge.Joe Day again buzzed in too early for the word which means both a part of a horse’s bridle, and a system of betting. It’s a little bit of an old chestnut, is the martingale, but Cardiff couldn’t take it. Jonathan Collings knew that it was Julian Barnes who wrote a retelling of the story of Noah’s Ark in 1989. It’s in “The History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters” and it’s very good too, the whole book is well worth a read. Bonuses on equestrian monuments delivered one correct answer. Manchester weren’t scoring as heavily as we’ve seen them do on the bonuses, but they kept winning the buzzer race, and in the end of the day that will bring you more wins than losses. Poor old Joe Day came into early again for the next question – something physicsy about electrons and stuff (stop me if I get too technical)- and lost 5. Cardiff couldn’t take it. Now, if a question has the word ‘Ingmar Bergman’ and ‘film’ you might just as well buzz in with the “Seventh Seal”. To be fair it won’t always be right, but it will be right a hell of a lot more times than it’s wrong. Especially if the word ‘chess’ is also part of the question. Roderick Lawford waited until the game of chess was mentioned, and then buzzed in with the answer. The classification of galaxies brought them one bonus. I loved Tom Parry Jones’ response to being nominated to answer the third bonus by his skipper – “Oh no! Don’t nominate me!” Nice one. On to the music round, and Jonathan Collings identified the dulcet tones of Blondie. Ah, Debbie Harry. Sorry, I was in a world of my own then for a moment. Three other artists or groups singing in French followed. I recognized Annie Lennox, another fave of mine, then Youssou N’Dour, and guessed Carla Bruni for a full set. Manchester had the last two. For the next starter Sara Caputo guessed that a target of an assassination attempt in 1800 would be Napoleon. Interpretation provided three hard bonuses, and I thought Cardiff did very well to take two of them. Jonathan Collings, so impressive on the buzzer for his team in this contest, took the next starter, identifying two authors linked by the surname Lessing. This earned bonuses on the Bishopric of Durham, and they took a full set. This took their score to 130 against Cardiff’s 60 just before the twenty minute mark. Neither team was exactly motoring full speed ahead, and to be honest it would need something special from Cardiff to overhaul Manchester.

Neither team could take tryptophan for the next starter. Cardiff finally found their buzzer fingers when Tom Parry Jones came in early to identify KSA and RSA as Saudi Arabia and South Africa respectively. Swedish scientists gave me a rare Science bonus, with Angstrom, and a second one with Linnaeus.These were the ones Cardiff had as well. It was back to normal with the next starter as Manchester, in the shape of skipper Elizabeth Mitchell won the buzzer race to identify Van Gogh’s Irises. More works depicting flowers proved a very good set for me, as I took a full set. Manchester knew all the flowers, but none of the artists. Jonathan Collings knew a collection of world war 1 artists for the next starter, as the Manchester galleon sailed serenely onwards. A set of bonuses on the ancient world and coins gave them two more bonuses, and pushed them closer to 200. Nobody took Joseph Stiglitz for the next starter. Me neither. Nobody knew that Dante and Thomas Aquinas were both born during the long reign of Henry III. Given a list of towns, and asked what status they were given in 1867, the big clue was the year, since it was the year of another reform act, but neither team quite had that they became parliamentary boroughs. Jonathan Collings buzzed in first to spell discrete – as in separate and distinct. A UC special set on pairs of words formed by the addition of the letter S – Hut and Shut for example – promised much, and delivered a full set. With a lead of over 100 Manchester were home and dry, and Cardiff had nothing more than pride to play for. Jonathan Collings buzzed in as soon as he heard the name Basil Hallward to identify The Picture of Dorian Grey. Antibacterial agents only needed to yield one correct answer to take Manchester to 200, but it was not to be. Not surprised. Now, I didn’t understand the next question, but the answer was three, and Tom Parry Jones had it. Bonuses on language families brought one bonus to take them to 95, and you feared at this stage that they might have lost their chance to make triple figures. Thankfully Tom Parry Jones knew that Dumbarton and Coventry City both have elephants on their crests. Just as well because there was no time for any bonuses. Cardiff finished, then with 105 to Manchester’s 195. Hard lines Cardiff, but well done for getting to the quarter final stage in what has been so far a highly competitive series. As for Manchester, well played. Good luck in your sudden death match next time.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Hardly anything to report until JP displayed one of my own worst traits as a question master, not only saying that an answer was wrong, when Manchester offered Michelangelo, but also saying why it was wrong, and suggesting that they should have known it,
”No, no, he was MUCH later. It was Donatello.”
He seemed in quite a jovial mood in this contest, did Jez. He chuckled along with the rest of us when Tom Parry Jones tried to refuse the poisoned chalice of nomination by his captain, and when the wrong answer was given replied “No, but it was worth it to see you try, though.”
Who would have thought that JP is a fan of the former first lady of France, Carla Bruni? He said, after Manchester had correctly identified her Gallic warblings,
”Yes, it IS Carla Bruni. . . It’s actually quite a good album.”
I thought that his reply of
”Which one?” to Sara Caputo’s answer of Napoleon was a little pernickety. After all, Napoleon always means Napoleon Bonaparte I. If the question required Louis Napoleon/Napoleon III, then yes, ask for clarification. She had it right, anyway.

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

Marilyn Monroe was born in the same year that Rudolph Valentino died.


Jack said...

Not much to say about this match that hasn't been said already; Manchester won, as we expected, but Cardiff managed a respectable final effort. Hard to say if Manchester will make it to the semis; depends who they fight next, I guess.

On the bonuses, Manchester managed just 18/36, not as good as some of their prior efforts. Cardiff actually did slightly better with 9/15. Jonathan Collings ended the match with TEN starters under his belt!

So, Somverille vs Southampton next. Should be a good match; good luck again Cromarty(IV) and co!

Londinius said...

Hi Jack,

Yes, I thought that about the bonuses from Manchester, but at the end of the day it didn't matter in this match. Great performance from Jonathan Collings - I thought that he was very good in their first round match as well.

Obviously I'm rooting for Southampton, and I reckon they're a good bet for the semis - either through this match or the next if they need one.