University Challenge – Heat 7 – Liverpool v. Sheffield
A good, old fashioned heat this, between two teams from universities in different cities.The Liverpool team consisted of Ben Mawdsley, Jim Davis, Hugh Hiscock,and their captain was Dachman Crewe. Now, the University of Sheffield holds the distinction of being one of the institutions which I actually applied to way back in the early 80s. That never quite came off, but no hard feelings, and I certainly don’t blame the team of Andrew Trueman, Nathaniel Aspray, Claire Greenwood and their captain was Nathaniel Aspray’s best man, Jonathan Cunliffe.
The first starter asked about a daily finance and economics newspaper. I bet both teams were just itching to hear if it was British or American, since questions about these papers inevitably have either the FT or the Wall St. Journal as the answer. When the name Charles Dow was mentioned Hugh Hiscock was the first to chance his arm with the latter. This earned his team bonuses on museum ships. 2 were taken, and I must say that I didn’t get the first myself. The next starter was very long winded, and I didn’t understand the first part at all. However the last part of the question revealed that the answer is the term for what comes between an era and an epoch. That I did know was period. Neither team managed that one. For the next starter JP got through the whole question, giving a list of people or characters from literature and asking for the given name by which they were all linked. It was a long time – relatively speaking – before Nathaniel Aspray buzzed in with the correct answer of Beatrice – Dante’s muse being one of them. Historical figures born in Somerset saw them take the one I didn’t know, Thomas Young, and miss out on the two that I did – Henry Irving and Ernie Bevin. Right, JP had made the point that Sheffield had a team who were all from the same faculty – all studying medicine. Now, when you come from a specialist institution, like the LSHTM, that’s inevitable. However if you do pack your team with one discipline you risk having a shortfall in certain areas. Hence Claire Greenwood winning the buzzer race when asked who wrote Under the Greenwood Tree, but not knowing it was Thomas Hardy, an answer which Hugh Hiscock supplied. Church architecture brought them one correct answer for the bonuses. The picture starter followed showing us the final rounds of the Wimbledon Men’s Singles competition, and the teams were asked to identify the year. Something about it said 2008 to me – after Jonathan Cunliffe had a punt with 2009 then Hugh Hiscock obviously thought the same as me, and he gave the correct answer. More diagrams for different years followed. Allowing Liverpool to be one year out either way made the bonuses all quite gettable, well, if you’re as old as me, that is. Liverpool managed one of them. Right then – if I give you a molecule of methane, a molecule of benzene and a molecule of methanol, how many carbon atoms have you got? If your answer is the same as mine, namely how the hell should I know? then you might be interested to know that it’s nine. Andrew Trueman knew that one. The bonuses on Test Centuries at Headingley were actually quite gettable if you have a basic knowledge of test cricket, but if you’re not interested in the sport then they’re not. So bearing that in mind Sheffield could probably be quite happy to take five points from the set. This meant that at just after the 10 minute mark they had restricted Liverpool to a 20 point lead, 50 to 30. First impressions were that while Liverpool seemed to have something of an edge on the buzzer, both teams were being rather profligate with their bonuses.
Jim Davis was in quickly when asked for a US president of the 19th century who was also a former military commander. Ulysses S. Grant wasn’t the only candidate, but he was certainly the most obvious, a fact which Jim Davis took full advantage of. Western Europe proved a good set for Liverpool, who took all three and won a hard-earned ‘well done’ from JP – and those aren’t given away with cornflakes packets either. With the bit obviously between their teeth, Hugh Hiscock buzzed in as soon as he recognized a definition of the word dialectic. Liverpool were given 3 descriptions and binomials of British reptiles, and they identified the common name of two of them. They kept on pounding their opponents by another good early buzz from Jim Davis, who knew that the arachnids that transmit lyme disease are ticks. I didn’t expect a great deal from holograms, which was just as well because I left the set empty handed. Liverpool themselves fared a bit better, taking one. This brought us to the music starter. Once again a rampant Liverpool team buzzed early to identify Beethoven’s 9th, specifically the Ode to Joy. Another one for the highly effective Hugh Hiscock, that one. Three more pieces of music that have featured on the soundtracks of the Die Hard series. For the first it transpired that the first film – which I have never seen, nor any of its progeny – had stolen the old theme to the Antiques Roadshow, which was written for it by JS Bach – a remarkable feat considering he died 228 years before it was first broadcast. Liverpool missed out on Bach, Brahms and Sibelius. A medicinal question – about treatment which is called topical, at last allowed Sheffield to push their way back into the game. Bonuses on colours used in HTML pages offered a chance to narrow the looming gap a little further. These weren’t easy, though, and only the one was taken. When asked for a 4 letter SPanish suffix, applied in derogatory terms in English to Blair and fashion, Hugh Hiscock was the first to untangle the question and buzz in with – ista. Right, now the first of a set of philosophy bonuses began by mentioning an object whose parts have been replaced so much that nothing of the original object remains. Immediately the words Trigger’s Broom sprang to my lips. This wasn’t the answer to the first, which was the Ship of Theseus – which you could guess from the words – the Ship of which legendary King of Athens – but it was the answer to the third. Two correct answers were enough to push Liverpool to a commanding 95 point lead, with 140 to Sheffield’s 45, and to be honest it looked to be all over bar the shouting.
A picture starter showing us Joachim Phoenix in the role of Johnny Cash – a fine performance which earned him an Oscar – Nathaniel Aspray was first in with this one. More actors playing musicians followed, and although they recognized a portrayal of Edith Piaf they didn’t know the actress, so no bonuses there. Claire Greenwood knew that a question asking about a river with a delta opening into the South China Sea will probably be about the Mekong. Gyres didn’t promise a lot for bonuses, but Sheffield managed one of them, and the fact was that at least they were starting to make headway with the starters. Neither team exactly impressed by not buzzing in immediately when the next starter began “What are the first five words of the 23rd psalm” but once JP supplied some further information it was Nathaniel Aspray who won the race to supply “The Lord is My Shepherd.” The languages of Afghanistan didn’t promise a great deal, but they did well to take five points with Pushtu. A list of writers sharing the same given name ended with ‘Death of a Salesman’ for the next starter. For the first time Hugh Hiscock showed a little vulnerability by buzzing in with Martin. This allowed Claire Greenwood to supply Arthur. Remarkably, Sheffield so far had shut Liverpool out completely from 4 starters in a row. Sadly they still didn’t get a particularly friendly set of bonuses, with astronomical distance scales. They managed one, but this still left them 40 points adrift. Right, I;ve no idea why, but when asked which fundamental force of nature is not include within the standard model of particle physics I answered ‘Gravity’. So did Andrew Trueman for Sheffield, and we were both correct. Cue lap of honour round the living room for me, while JP asked Sheffield a set of bonuses on Time Magazine’s person of the Year. Two correct answers halved the gap. But hardly any time remained, and Jim Davis turned their challenge into mission impossible by answering that SETI stand for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Bonuses on Albert Finney supplied no more points, but they ate into the time, and Sheffield now needed more than a full set. Nobody knew that the Elephant in French and the Runner in German are the Bishop in English on a chess board. Jonathan Cunliffe knew that if the first part of a binomial denotes the species, then the second part denotes the genus. Bonuses on Human memory only had time for one question, and no answer before the gong ended the contest.
The final score was 155 to 130, Commiserations to Sheffield, who produced a splendid fightback in the last few minutes. Congratulations to Liverpool, who were, I think, just the better team on the balance of the competition as a whole. I don’t know the bonus conversion rates, but I wouldn’t have thought that they were among the highest we’ll see all series, but nonetheless an engaging and well fought contest. Well done to both.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
When asked for the name of the first actor to gain a knighthood, Sheffield plucked a name from thin air – Christopher Hooper. “Christopher HOOPER?. . . interesting.” replied JP, although I have no doubt he only did it for effect, it being quite obvious that the team were scoobyless on this one.
Unable to give the Russian name required for one of the hologram bonuses, Dachman Crewe cheekily offered Vladimir Putin. – Hallo – I thought – wigging from JP coming up here. No such thing, he merely restricted himself to “He’s a very talented man, isn’t he?” Huh? Has someone been putting tranquilisers into JP’s normal pre-show meal raw meat?
On the ‘topical treatment’ question, far from encouraging Sheffield now that they had managed their first starter for several minutes he offered them solace with the words, “Wouldn’t want to be treated by you if you didn’t know THAT”. Ah, the mogadons were wearing off!
To be fair to JP I think he did notice that Sheffield were staging an impressive comeback in the last few minutes, because of his imprecation to the team when they dithered over a set of bonuses, “You’d better hurry up as we’re in the dying minutes of the competition”
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
An object which has had all of its original parts replaced – like Trigger’s Broom – is a philosophical paradox known as The Ship of Theseus – and , deliciously – The Sock of Locke.