Friday, 6 March 2015

University Challenge - Quarter Final Qualification Match

Gonville and Caius v. Magdalen, Oxford

Gonville and Caius’ team of Ted Loveday, Michael Taylor, Anthony Martinelli, and Jeremy Warner, have looked pretty good value for their wins in the competition so far, and in round two saw off Manchester. Last time out they beat Durham. Their opposition, the Magdalen team of Harry Gillow, Chris Savory, Cameron J. Quinn and their captain Hugh Binnie are another of the highly fancied teams in this year’s tourney. They defeated Trinity in their own first quarter final match. At stake in this match was an automatic place in the semis for the winners. So let’s see who won.

Hugh Binnie was in exceptionally quickly for the first starter. He didn’t need a lot more than Benedict Cumberbatch on U2 to get that the answer required was photo bomb. The first set of bonuses on the City of London surprised me when nobody on the team recognised the latin version of – If you seek his monument – look around you. Still, they took the other two. For the next starter Harry Gillow won the buzzer race to identify the Ruhr. French overseas departments gave Magdalen their first full house. Next starter it was Cameron Quinn who interrupted early, providing the correct answer that what we were listening to was a description of a fungus. Some Sciency thing followed about metals and rocks and stuff. They took 2. Cameron Quinn, obviously energised by Magdalen’s blitz start, had a rush of blood to the head and buzzed in too early for the next starter. Given a free run at the question, Caius were given details about three countries, which were the only ones to begin with a specific letter of the alphabet. Unsettled, perhaps by Magdalen’s onslaught, they opted for B rather than the correct answer – H. Straightaway Anthony Martinelli made amends, though, but recognising several of the components of the International Space Station. World champions in chess brought just the one bonus – but at least they were up and running, and weren’t now in danger of being told by JP there was plenty of time to come back – a kiss of death from which there is no chance of recovery. Cameron Quinn recognised the logo of La Francophonie for the picture starter. Three more logos of International Organisations that use French as an official working language. They took the last. Nobody knew that Rolf Dobelli wrote The Art of Critical Thinking for the next starter. Thus, just before the 10 minute mark, Magdalen led with a convincing 75 – 15, and were winning the buzzer race emphatically.

Anthony Martinelli looked despairing and shook his head as he offered the answer John of Gaunt to a question requiring the father of Henry IV. Which was of course the correct answer. Names or terms beginning with three consecutive letters of the alphabet promised much for the bonus set, and the two they managed took their score to 35. Cameron Quinn buzzed too early again, and then hesitated when asked in which Italian province Bari and Brindisi can be found. Anthony Martinelli correctly answered Puglia. Linear algebra offered me little, but hey, on this sort of question if you just keep answering 0 you’ll often get a point. So I got one, while Caius took a full set. The gap was down to 10 points, and it was starting to look as if Caius had weathered the opening storm from Magdalen. Neither team knew the term super plasticity, so we moved on. Tannenberg – two battles – escaped both teams as well. Cameron Quinn, so impressive in previous matches, had been a little off his game in this show up to this point. However he took a brilliantly quick buzz on a William Morris pattern to supply the correct answer of strawberry. Endangered species brought two bonuses, and led us onto an unmistakeable wee snatch of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony. Ted Loveday took his first starter of the night on that one. More classical pieces followed, and they identified 2 of them. Now, I don’t know how I knew that the thinnest material is graphene, but I did. That didn’t matter – but it mattered that High Binnie knew it, and was in for it very quickly too. Travel writing in the 18th century provided a gettable set, and Magdalen managed 1 – confusing their Jonsons with their Boswells. Michael Taylor took a good UC starter for the next, working out that if you add the 2nd Empire to the 5th Republic you get 7. Abolished cabinet posts brought a full house, and the gap was now down to a mere 5 points. Nobody recognised a quote from John Steinbeck, and so we moved on to the next starter. Now, the phrase uncanny valley means nowt to me, and Cameron Quinn supplied it so quickly to the next starter that I can offer you little else but the amplification from JP – It’s when a robot becomes so humanlike that it bothers you. Very good buzz. Computer technology, and acronyms didn’t do much for Magdalen. The only one I knew was BASIC. Hugh Binnie knew that if you roll two fair six sided dice the probability that the combined score will be 10 or higher is one in six. Well, that’s good to know. Kings of France was the subject of the bonuses, and Magdalen took just the one. Which meant that just after the 20 minute mark they led by 130 – 100. You still sensed that the force was with Magdalen, but Caius had staged a splendid fightback, and it was still anybody’s game.

Michael Taylor wiped out 10 points of the lead, knowing that the Duke of Windsor had been the Governor of the Bahamas. 11ths in a list provided a full set, which wiped out another 15. The lead was again down to 5 points. Now, for the second picture starter I knew that the major religious reformer of the 17th century we could see absolutely wasn’t Martin Luther, so guessed Jean Calvin. Ted Loveday didn’t know it wasn’t Martin Luther, so he gave that a lash, and I can’t blame him for that. This let Cameron Quinn in. More of the same followed of which Magdalen managed one. For the next starter we were all asked for the surname of a group of writers including the author of The Heart of Midlothian. Ted Loveday won the buzzer race to answer – Scott. Nuclear power generation offered three questions that were all gettable, but, with the chance to take the lead they could only manage one. Ted Loveday took a good buzz for the next starter, though, with the word paraclete, and they were now in the lead for the first time. People born in Barcelona brought a further 10 points. Anthony Martinelli also knew spiracles on arthropods for the next starter. Cities in the Bible brought two more correct answers, and remarkably, Caius now had a 35 point lead with about two and a half minutes to go. What a good match. Michael Taylor knew that corgi is a Welsh word. Da iawn! Ardderchog! Sometime homophones brought a timely full house. Hugh Binnie played a captain’s innings for Magdalen, buzzing in to identify Dorset Blue Vinney as cheese. Currencies they needed a full house on but only took one. Cameron Quinn was in too quickly for the author of the 1689 work Two Treatises of Government, and you wondered whether that was just about it for Magdalen. Ted Loveday gave the correct answer of John Locke. That was all we had time for. A terrific fightback by a team inspired by the never say die attitude of their captain saw Gonville and Caius winners by 215 to 155. That gap of 60 points is a little flattering, but what a competition. Very well played Gonville and Caius – bad luck Magdalen, but you can still make the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When Jeremy Warner offered B rather than H for the countries, he just sat there for a moment or two with a look, almost of disgust, upon his face. Look, Jez, it’s called pressure, ok?

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

Uncanny Valley is a phrase used for when a robot becomes so humanlike that it bothers you. 


Jack said...

A very good match this, between the two teams most had earmarked as series favourites beforehand. Impressive from Caius in that they refused to let Magdalen steam-roller away after leading most of the match, and then sprinted away late on to win comfortably at the end.

If Caius keep playing confidently like that, then they could well go all the way. Magdalen played very well too though, and I can't see how they won't reach the semis if they keep it up, especially if they play Bristol in their play-off, as most expect.

The bonuses were where the match was won: Caius converted 22/30 (with one penalty) and Magdalen 14/30 (with three penalties).

On Monday, it must be Durham vs Trinity.

Londinius said...

In a way, Jack, I do think that Magdalen were victims of their early success. They were buzzing so well early on that they got a little reckless and a couple of times came flying in when it really wasn't on.

Those bonus conversion rates are telling too - Magdalen less than 50%.

I still think they'll be in the semis, though.