Saturday, 8 August 2015

University Challenge - Round One - Match 4

Manchester v. York

Due to their remarkable run of success in the last few years it’s probably fair to say that Manchester have something of the air of marked men and women about them. That is to say that, like their football teams, they’re one of those outfits that you’re going to have to beat if you want to have a serious crack at the title. This year, Manchester’s team comprised of James Haughton, Osnat Katz, Jacob Roberts and their captain Graham Abbot. York have not had quite such an illustrious UC past, but another way of looking at that is that they had nothing to lose. They were represented by Barto Joly de Lotbiniere, Sam Smith (no, not the singer), Joseph McLoughlin and their captain, David Landon Cole.

Barto Joly de Lotbiniere knew that as soon as you hear the phrase ‘nephew of Charles I’ you hit the buzzer and answer Rupert. He was right too. This gave York bonuses on Germany, and they took a full house. This might have just been a flash in the pan, but it certainly made it look as if Manchester had their work cut out for them. This impression was reinforced when David Landon Cole buzzed in early to identify works by Noam Chomsky. The Presidential Medal of Freedom did not provide another full house, but the 5 points they gained took the tally to 40 unanswered points. Now, for the next starter, when asked for a phase of the moon I always answer gibbous, and it’s right more often than it’s wrong. Osnat Katz gave the same answer and reaped the reward of three bonuses on hedgerow fruits (aren’t they called Starburst now? Younger readers may need to ask their elders to explain that cultural reference.) but they failed to yield anything. For the picture starter Sam Smith won the buzzer race to identify and outline of the island of Madagascar. This earned a set of more island nations and frankly the way that they had a full set, even identifying St. Vincent and the Grenadines was very impressive. James Haughton was the first in to recognize a quotation from Leibniz, and this brought Manchester bonuses on that jolly funster, Philip Larkin. I managed 2, Manchester 1. This meant that at the 10 minute mark York were in command with 65 – 25.

The next starter asked which specific artform inspired a series of other works, and even before the first example was given I ventured the opinion that they would be paintings. “Sunday in the Park with George” confirmed it, and Girl With a Pearl Earring gave it to Osnat Katz. International Sporting Competitions provided Manchester with a good full set. David Landon Cole won the buzzer race to complete a quotation from HL Mencken. This gave them a full set on Genoa. The next starter was the first to go unanswered by either team – none of us knew the musical term tombeau. Joseph McLoughlin buzzed in too early for the next starter. To be fair I thought that the question was going for the Moon Io when it mentioned volcanically active, but after he’d answered, JP then continued to mention that the moon required is named after a merman in Greek myth. Osnat Katz went for Uranus, but it was Triton, and I’m afraid that that one will have to be looked upon as an opportunity missed. Sam Smith perpetrated York’s second consecutive incorrect interruption, suggesting that the Ruriks ruled Moscow. Close (although not THAT close geographically) but no cigar. James Haughton correctly zigged with Kiev.Two bonuses on economics reduced the gap to a starter and a bonus. For the music starter Jacob Roberts quickly recognized Tchaikovsky, but zagged with The Nutcracker, allowing Joseph McLoughlin to zag with Swan Lake. Three more excerpts from works which have a swan in them seemed a little tenuous. I had no idea about the first. When asked for a Nordic composer for the second – well, it’s a toss up between Grieg and Sibelius. I didn’t recognize it so went correctly with Sibelius. As for the last, well the dying swan was by Saint Saens. Now for the next starter, I don’t know much about Science, but it’s a fair bet that a term like lucifugous is going to have something to do with light. Graham Abbot thought so, and we were both right. Artificial sweeteners proved none too sweet for any of us, and each of those questions went begging. Barto Joly de Lotbiniere knew that Colm Toibin wrote the Testament of Mary – good shout, that. This took York into treble figures. They took a bit of time over it, but managed two out of three bonuses on German battleships of World War II. Sam Smith won the buzzer race to identify EBV as the Epstein-Barr Virus. Two bonuses took them to 125, and a 50 point lead at the 20 minute mark. Manchester were staring down the barrel of a gun at this point, and the unthinkable possibility of a first round exit for Manchester was becoming more thinkable with every minute.

Barto Joly de Lotbiniere identified a photograph of Anthony Gormley. Three other people or groups to have appeared as themselves in The Archers followed, but they missed out on Britt Ekland. (sarky comment overload). James Haughton took a flyer with the next starter, which required a Spanish language other than Castilian, and was right with Galician. With only about 5 minutes to go Manchester needed full sets, but only had one of a set on World Heritage Sites. Something about octahedral geometry followed – I didn’t understand it, but Sam Smith did and correctly answered 6. A set of bonuses on Theodore Roosevelt showed that York have the invaluable knack of discussing wrong options, but picking right answers. Sam Smith added to Manchester’s difficulties by buzzing early to identify two Seljuk Sultans. Another full set on Indonesia took them to their double century. York’s skipper knew the term ornithopter and York took 2 bonuses on crowns. Sam Smith, who was really finishing with a flourish, knew that the 2014 Tour de France began stage 3 in Cambridge. Human anatomy bonuses took York’s score to 245. Nobody knew that it was Tennyson who wrote “To strive, to seek, to find, but not to yield”. That man Sam Smith knew that Samarkand is in Uzbekistan, and bonuses on Benjamin Britten brought the score to 265. That was where the gong sounded, leaving York on 265, and Manchester on 90.

JP doesn’t do consolation very well, but his words “that’s not a great score Manchester” were true. But then, you can only play as well as the opposition allows you to play, and especially for the last 10 minutes York were on fire. In fact I would stick my neck out and say that they are the most impressive team we’ve seen so far. How far can they go? Who knows? But this at least was a very good performance.  

Jeremy Paxman Watch

He started early, with a rather dismissive “No, she was Australian” when York suggested that Germaine Greer might have been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Now, we’ve seen in the past how sniffy JP can be when teams get an English lit question wrong. For the Philip Larkin bonuses he stressed that he wanted the titles and not the first lines, and when Jacob Roberts couldn’t answer “This be the verse” he observed, approvingly, “Well, at least let’s be grateful you didn’t give us the first line”

I have never seen JP’s flabber being quite so gasted as with James Haughton’s answer of Galician. He looked at the card in disbelief, paused, looked up with a wry smile and confirmed it was correct. “Of course it’s correct, but how could you know that without knowing which cities I was going to mention?” It’s called guessing, Jez. Well, either that or ESP.

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

The America’s Cup was actually originally called the Hundred Sovereign cup


Jack said...

Well, I don't think many would have thought that scoreline would be for a York win. Manchester were simply outplayed on the buzzer for the most part, and there's not much you can do when that happens. The bonus rates were quite telling too: Manchester only managed 7/18 (with one penalty), but York managed a brilliant 29/39 (with two penalties).

I agree that York are definitely the most impressive team we've seen so far; it's an impressive feat to beat Manchester, but to do so in the first round, and by such a big margin too, is quite something. They could go far this year with a good draw.

On Monday, Nottingham play Swansea. Then the week after, it's a London derby between St George's and, making its UC debut, the Institute of Cancer Research.

Stephen Follows said...

I really don't see the problem with the swans bonuses - the link was a good deal less tenuous than we get in a lot of the non-musical questions.

The first piece, by the way, was part of Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana'. Anyone who's been anywhere near a choral society - including a university choir - will have been shouting at the TV about that one.

Londinius said...

"I really don't see the problem with the swans bonuses - the link was a good deal less tenuous than we get in a lot of the non-musical questions."

As I always say, Stephen - this is just my opinion and feel free to disagree. You've probably worked out that I haven't been anywhere near a choral society since, ooh, ever.

Hi Jack,

That bonus rate is impressive. If they are as good in round two, then they'll need to be taken very seriously indeed.