Thursday, 24 July 2014

University Challenge - Round One - Match Two

Oxford Brookes v. Jesus, Oxford

An all Oxford affair, this. Last time out, Oxford Brookes reached the quarter finals in 2011. In the same series Jesus Oxford were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition in the first round, the round in which they were beaten last year as well. Oxford Brookes’ team consisted of Simon Joyce, Paula Ayres, Stephen May, and skipper David Ballard. Jesus’ team consisted of Beth Roberts, Louisa Thompson, Jonathan Clingman, and captain Alex Browne.

For the first starter Jonathan Clingman worked out that the clues were leading us to sapphire and satire, which both end in – ire. The team managed 1 of a gettable set on Thomas Cromwell. A good old quiz chestnut listing some of the people who have been pictured on Bank of England banknotes came next, and Paula Ayres was the first one in for the points. When the set of bonuses were announced on a physical constant I came out with my stick answer – the speed of light – and picked up a point with the first bonus. I picked up another knowing that Foucault was the French pendulum guy, as did the team. Now, talking about stock answers – JP announced that for the next starter he wanted a particular liquid, and started giving various chemical properties of it. I thought, if in doubt, go water. It was right. Jonathan Clingman took his second starter with this one. Wikipedia editors confounded them, and I only had one because I knew that the red portcullis is the symbol of the House of Lords. Both Alex Browne and I recognized a description of Yokohama for the next starter. This earned Jesus a set of bonuses on The International Sociological Organisation’s list of books of the 20th century. I have to say, none of them exactly sounded like good holiday reading. Jesus took one, which was one more than I did. For the picture starter Paula Ayres recognized the Russian word for good as written in Cyrillic. The bonuses were three more Russian words on which Nadsat words in Anthony Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ are based. Phew – got that everyone? Frankly I was impressed that Oxford Brookes even got one of them. Which was enough to ensure that the scores at the 10 minute mark were 40 – 25 to Jesus. First impressions were that Jesus seemed to have slightly the edge on the buzzer, but both teams were rather profligate with the bonuses. It also seemed that neither team was answering particularly quickly, and this could, just could be one of those low scoring contests where only the winner will go through.

The next starter was a very good example of what you can get on UC. I’ll be honest, I don’t know Nick Payne, or any two hander play that he’s written. However I do know that constellations is the pural for a word meaning a group of stars. Louisa Thompson won the buzzer race on that one once it became clear. The infectious disease bonuses they were given provided all of us with two correct answers. Simon Joyce won the buzzer race to answer that a Great Auk was killed on St. Kilda in 1840, and this provided Oxford Brookes with words coined in the 1990s. Like them I had dotcom and malware, but not digerati. Maybe bearing in mind JPs well deserved reputation for scorn when a Shakespeare question is incorrectly answered both teams held back from answering which play has a pageant in which characters dress as great figures from antiquity. It was Beth Roberts who provided the correct answer of Love’s Labours Lost. Unpublished novels provided Jesus with 2 bonuses, although they maybe might have picked up on the clue in the title that Titus Awakes was by Mervyn Peake. Beth Roberts took her second consecutive starter by very quickly recognizing as song from the soundtrack of ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ The bonuse set asked them to identify three more films featuring fictional bands. I surprised myself by getting a fullset on this. The one that foxed Jesus was Tom Hank’s film “That Thing You do” – a rather good film as I recall. Nonetheless the 2 bonuses they had put them up to 3 figures. Stephen Mayes buzzed in to take the next starter with various types of meteorites. Bonuses on lasers promised me nothing, which is what they delivered to all of us. Given three Jacks – Hobbs – Charlton and Nicklaus and asked for the christian names, David Ballard scored a bit of an own goal by buzzing in with the surname Charlton rather than the christian name Jack. Jesus though couldn’t add insult to injury, being unable to answer the question. The next starter on antiseptics asked what QACS stand for. No more than I did, nobody knew Quarternary Ammonium Compunds. Nobody knew that the Battle of Sheriffmuir took place in the 1710s. You could be forgiven for going for the 1740s, but this was the first Jacobite Rebellion, not the second. Not that either team did. Right on the cusp of 20 minutes, Jesus had extended the lead, with the score at 100 – 55, and were looking likely to get home with maybe a little to spare.

Now, if a starter says US thinker – and – 1849, then there really are only two likely possible answers. Thoreau is one – Emerson (Ralph Waldo rather than Fittipaldi) the other. Simon Joyce chanced his arm with Thoreau and was rewarded. Two bonuses on Tales from Shakespeare narrowed the gap to 25 – one full set. The second picture starter showed a photo of Mr. Chekov. Neither team had it. A UC special followed, asking - from which SI units could you use the letters to make French words for Mother and Father? Jonathan Clingman won the buzzer race with ‘ampere’. For his pains his team were rewarded with the picture bonuses. Chekov of course wrote the Cherry Orchard. These bonuses all showed writers at least one of whose works included the name of a piece of fruit. It shows how times have changed when they didn’t recognize Roald Dahl. It was a bit naughty expecting them to identify Jeannette Winterson and TWO works with fruit in the title all for a measly five point bonus. David Ballard was in impressively quickly to identify Mahatma Gandhi as Time Magazine’s first Asian and Non-American Man of the Year. An interesting set on years that contained only two digits – eg 1515 and 1666 – saw them add five more points. The gape still stood at 25 points, and time was ticking away. Beth Roberts came in early on the question asking what Argus had 100 of, and went for teeth, losing 5 points. Stephen Mayes had it with eyes, and the gap was down to 10. A UC special set followed, on shorter words that can be made with any of the letters from the word voluptuous. Almost inevitably 2 bonuses were taken, which meant that both teams were level. Paula Ayres put Oxford Brookes ahead, knowing that in mammals the osseous whatsaname is in the ear. Geological bonuses increased the lead to 20 points. A full set could still give Jesus the win – mind you we had yet to see a full set taken in this show. Beth Roberts fulfilled the first requirement, knowing that Merrylegs was a stablemate of Black Beauty. Bonuses on Francis Bacon ( who did NOT write the plays of Shakespeare) saw them answer 1 incorrectly, at which point the gong sounded. Bad luck that. Had they taken the next two starters we’d have been in a tiebreak situation.

Well done Oxford Brookes, good luck in Round Two. Bad luck Jesus. An interesting match, for very different reasons from those that made last week’s such a good match. For once JP’s final comments hit the nail on the head when he said that Jesus spent far too long conferring on bonuses. Although I would add that taking your time is fine when it enables you to take full sets. Maybe they would have been better to give quick guessed answers and move on.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Now, we expect JP to get sniffy when teams get Shakespeare questions wrong, but it’s coming to something when he starts doing it with physics as well. When Oxford Brookes offered ‘doppler’ effect for ‘stellar aberration’ he wrinkled his nose, and in a tone remarkably reminiscent of Edward Blackadder saying ‘Bob’, repeated ‘ Doppler?’

Having started relatively early, JP held his piece until the last few minutes of the show, when Oxford Brookes speculatively suggested that the Chekov phot might be Charles Dickens. “Dickens?!” he replied, in the tones of Mr. Bumble just after Oliver Twist has asked for more, “it doesn’t look the slightest bit like Dickens!”

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

Digerati was a word coined in the 1990s for particularly IT literate people.


Jack said...

Bad luck to Jesus there; they led most of the way through, and maybe took their feet off the pedal too early. I doubt 120 will be enough for the repechage, which is a shame as they were an OK team. As for Oxford Brookes, it was a fair enough win for them, but I suspect they'll need to play better next time to progress further. Lets hope they can do that.

The bonus rates were telling: Oxford Brookes managed 11/24, and Jesus 9/28 (both sides incurred one penalty). So, while Jesus got two more starters, their lower bonus rate, combined with Oxford Brookes' better one, was what lost them the game.

Also, if I may make a slight correction, Jesus College Oxford weren't in last year's series; they were in the series before and went out in Round 2. Sorry to have to pull you up on it.

Next week, Bristol play the Courtauld Institute of Art, which will be debuting on the show. Then, the week after, the show pauses for the WW1 centenary commemorations. When it will resume is not yet clear.

Jack said...

Actually, if I may correct myself, I made a mistake in my calculations; Jesus' bonus rate was actually 9/22, meaning that Oxford Brookes won the game purely because of their better bonus rate. Sorry about that.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack
Right, sorry, when I was checking Sean Blanchflower's site I saw that Jesus had played in the 2013, and that being last year I put two and two together and made 5.

9/22 and 11/24 aren't great - if I'm right there wasn't one full set of bonuses converted, that's actually what made for such a close, tight game. I go into more detail about this on the podcast, but it's a shame that Jesus weren't given time for that full set of bonuses at the end to see if they could have tied the game and taken it into a tiebreak. Still, on reflection Oxford Brookes probably just about deserved to win by a nose, to use horse racing parlance.