Saturday, 15 August 2015

University Challenge - Round One - Match 5

Nottingham v. Swansea

Right, the first team to receive the dubious honour of support from the Clark sofa this season appeared this week in the shape of Swansea. I studied for my degree at London University Goldsmith’s College, but I did my PGCE at Swansea. We’ll come to them in a minute. Their opponents, Nottingham, were represented by Michael Alexander, Ben Scrafield, Mark Dennis and their captain Alice Lilly. Swansea, then, were represented by Georgia Pigott, Dewi Goulden, Alan Owens and their captain Adam Haines. Full marks to Alan for introducing himself yn Cmyraeg – da iawn!

“Vessel” and “Robert Fitzroy begged the answer HMS Beagle, and Michael Alexander struck first to provide it. This earned a set on communication devices, where a couple of wrong zigs saw them only provide one correct answer. Both Dewi Goulden and I knew that Eureka! Is the motto of California. I’ve known that for over 30 years. How? Because on the opening sequence of the old US cop show CHiPs, about the California Hughway Patrol, there was a brief shot of their badge, which had the word on it. Funny the things which stick in your mind. Two bonuses on fictional languages were enough to put Swansea into the lead. The next starter was one of those where it really pays to wait. We were being asked for a city, and given a lot of details. However, as soon as it said “ – on the European side. – “ then that was the big clue, and Dewi Goulden was first in to answer Istanbul. Bonuses on Abraham Maslow gave nothing to any of us. A great picture starter showed three national flags – Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and asked for the major river that passes through all three in that order, the answer being the Dneipr. More of the same followed and Nottingham missed the Mekong and the Zambesi but took the Rhine. This left us well poised approaching the 10 minute mark with both sides on 30.

I guessed that the JJ Sakurai Prize was for Theoretical Physics when Peter Higgs was named as one of the winners. OK, Alan Owens said Particle Physics, but JP said it would have done. Scientists who gave their name to constants gave me one. I answered Faraday to all of them, and eventually it paid a singular dividend. The next starter saw both teams remarkably reluctant to chance their collective arms on what seemed pretty obviously Thomas Cromwell. In the end that fell to Dewi Goulden. A good UC set on sitcoms offered points, but Swansea were a little profligate, and took not one of a gettable set. In a tight game you can’t let a visit to the table go without putting balls in the pockets. Michael Alexander recognized a proverb from the book of proverbs, to earn bonuses on alcoholic spirits. Nottingham answered 2, and this narrowed the gap to five points, underlining the importance of taking your bonuses. So to the music starter. Mark Dennis recognized the work of Mr. Kanye West, whom I reliable informed is a popular musician. He won some poll, (the only good poll is a deed poll) and three other winners of the same brought none of us any points. Michael Alexander gave a very early answer to the definition of the word rubric. The word terrier provided two correct answers. Alice Lilly knew when Australia won their first AFC cup. This was the third consecutive starter, and things were looking ominous for Swansea. Bonuses on ‘the Athens ofs’ provided one bonus, so although they were outbuzzing Swansea, they had yet to build an unassailable lead by the 20 minute mark, with the score at 95 – 55 in their favour.

‘Doonesbury for Kids’ could only be Calvin and Hobbes, as Michael Alexander was the first to point out. This took Nottingham into 3 figures, and earned bonuses on Roman place names. Again, they weren’t all easy, but they were all gettable. Nottingham managed 1. And so to the second picture starter. Asked for the figure from Greek Myth it was clearly Narcissus, but I couldn’t have told you the answer – it was Rubens. Nobody had it. Now, as soon as you are asked for a German composer and hear the words ‘Italian symphony’ slam the buzzer through the desk and do what Mark Dennis did – say Mendelssohn. The painter bonuses, more Narcissi, provided us both with one correct answer with Caravaggio. Nobody knew that of the US states beginning with M – Michigan has the highest Population. An anagram of Henry David Thoreau was first worked out by Michael Alexander – in many ways he was proving to be the real difference between the two teams. Henry David Toreau. I used to enjoy his Weird Weekends TV show. Bonuses on island groups provided no more points. Swansea really needed to find some answers, and Georgia Pigott provided it with the anatomical term the orbit. Trees with 5 letter common names gave another 5 points. Alan Owens knew the Battle of the Bulge for the next starter, and questions on Calatrava Bridges brought 10 points. They were on the cusp of triple figures – 40 points behind Nottingham. Realistically they had to go for the win – and needed the next starter to have a real chance. They got it too, as captain Adam Haines knew the roman term the Calends. Zoology questions on phylums gave 10 more points, but then the gong struck, leaving them stranded on 110 to Nottingham’s 135.

Good old Jolly Jez rubbed it in – That was a terrible point in the competition when you seemed to go to sleep there! Ah Mr. Paxman – sometimes you just cannot see a wound without wanting to rub salt in it, can you? Well played Nottingham. In all honesty I don’t think they’re the strongest team we’ve seen so far, and will need to play better in round two. But they’re in round two, and that’s the main thing.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Remarkably forgiving today was our JP. He allowed what sounded remarkably like Avocado’s Constant for Avogadro’s Constant. Maybe this was why he eyed Dewi Goulden suspiciously when he offered ‘Cromwell’, and asked ‘Which one?’ He was on Swansea’s case a bit at this time. When he asked in the sitcom bonus set that followed, which US 90s sitcom with a one word title has as the first part of its name a form of the German for to be? Swansea answered – Friends. That’s not stupid – if you don’t know German at all then Frie looks like Frei which is definitely German. As it was, though, JP wrinkled his nose as if he’d just smelt something unpleasant. “Friends?!” he sniffed in exaggerated disbelief.”No, it’s SEINfeld.” When they offered Frasier instead of Will and Grace he gave us a repeat performance. After this bullying, captain Adam declined to even try for Scrubs, saying “I’m not going to embarrass myself”, to which JP purred “You coward!” in triumph.

About midway through the game he had a fit of the chuckles, when instead of offering The Athens of the North for an Edinburgh nickname, Nottingham offered Auld Reekie – which, let’s be fair might not have fit the derivation, but IS a nickname for Edinburgh, and thus certainly not deserving of mirth.

I felt that welcoming Swansea back when Georgia Pigott buzzed in for Orbit was rather mean too. I doubt very much that they hadn’t been trying to win the buzzer race, Jez.

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

Nashville has been nicknamed The Athens of the South

1 comment:

Jack said...

Not a terribly high scoring match; the sides were both OK on the buzzer, but neither followed up on the bonuses: Nottingham only managed 9/27 and Swansea 8/21. Nottingham will definitely have to improve on that in the second round to make further progress. But then, of course, first round form is never a true indication of a team's full potential. We shall see how they fare.

I'm afraid the press kicked up a fuss over Paxo's 'you're good at sport aren't you?' comment to Miss Lilly after she got the AFC cup question right. Accusations of sexism have been mentioned by the Independent at least.

On Monday, the Institute of Cancer Research makes its UC debut against St George's. The week after, an Oxbridge match, with Christ's for Cambridge and Kellogg for Oxford.