Sussex v. Queen’s, Belfast
It was good to see JP trumpeting one of the show’s essential virtues at the start of the show, namely, that you get about 100 questions in about half an hour, which is a fantastic ratio especially compared with some lesser quizzes. First up this week was the team from Sussex, comprised of Oliver Raven, Anushka Davé, Dan Elbro and their skipper Seb Zarrilli. Their opposition, from Queen’s - Belfast, were Alastair Mallon, Jethro Waldron, Charlie Shimmins, and captain Jack Ruddy.
Jack Ruddy took first blood, knowing that RC Sherriff’s play “Journey’s End” is set in World War One. Three bonuses on Canada followed, of which none of us knew more than one. Seb Zarrilli opened his team’s account, knowing that the term which denotes erroneous ideas which have the appearance of sound reasoning (well, something like that) is a fallacy. One bonus on chemical elements – yes, I got one, and yes, I did a lap of honour around the sitting room – one bonus meant that the two teams were all square. Charlie Shimmins recognized two different things both denoted by the acronym OCD. Two bonuses on the maritime disaster which befell Sir Cloudsley Shovell’s fleet, and its consequences were answered correctly, but not the name of the manufacturer of the famous marine chronometer, John Harrison. 15 years ago or more that one would have been answered, but I suppose memory of Dava Sobell’s wonderful book “Longitude” are maybe fading a bit now. So to the picture starter, and one of Goldsmiths College’s most recent illustrious alumni, Steve McQueen. Three photos of other Turner Prize winners brought Queen’s no more points, although they had a narrow miss with Rachael Whiteread. Asked which planet is the fifth largest in diameter in the solar system, it was Jack Ruddy who supplied the correct answer with Earth. Two bonuses from a nice set on second lines of famous novels or novellas brought their score to 65, and they led Sussex by 50 points at the ten minute mark.
Dan Elbbro had a near miss with the next starter. Asked for the word which linked titles by , amongst others, Isaac Newton and Bertrand Russell, he gave the close English word Principles, rather than the correct latin original, Principia. Jethro Waldron wasn’t going to turn his nose up at that windfall. Two bonuses on British Overseas Territories in the Olympic Games took Queen’s further ahead, and you sensed that for Sussex we were at that stage in the competition where, if they didn’t make a conscious decision to start throwing caution to the wind, and risk losing 5 here and there for early buzzes, then they had little or no chance of coming back into it. There was a lovely UC special starter next. What number is obtained by adding the regnal numbers in both England and Scotland of the last King James and his successor, William. Well, the last James gets you 2 and 7 which is 9, and his successor gets you 3 and 2. Seb Zarillia had the correct answer of 14. This brought Sussex some comfort, and even more was provided in the shape of a full house on comfort food. Alastair Mallon recognized a quote about the highly influential Velvet Underground. Only one of a gettable set of bonuses on husbands in Shakespeare was taken, but then Queen’s still very much had the whip hand in this contest. Both Alastair Mellon and I were first in to recognize a wee soupçon of Fleetwood Mac, and earned three other artists or bands to have played at Presidential Inaugural galas or other presidential events. Both band and president were required. This set proved a little tricky, and Queen’s managed just the one – the same one that I managed as it happened. Alastair Mallon, who was really finding his buzzer range at this stage of the competition knew that Tony Benn was the longest ever serving member of the Labour Party.A full house on biology put Sussex 100 points behind, and, to all intents and purposes, out of the contest. Seb Zarrilli buzzed in early to take the old quiz chestnut about the company formed by Edwin Land – polaroid. The full house they received on stage musicals took their score to 65, but it couldn’t disguise the fact that, at the 20 minute mark they had been comprehensively beaten to the buzzer throughout much of the contest so far.
So, time for Sussex to at least show us what they were made of. It looked like a tall order to overhaul Queen’s, and a tall order to set a competitive score in the hunt for a repechage slot, but we have seen such things happen in the past. Dan Ebro began the fightback knowing a German chappy called Max Weber. They sadly couldn’t manage any of the bonuses on light. I was very pleased with myself for identifying a painting by John Singer Sargent. Nobody else did. Oliver Rave knew that in 2015 the Ivory Coast won the African Cup of Nations. This earned the picture bonuses, where Sussex were asked to identify figures who sat for Sargent. Two correct answers put them on the cusp of three figures. Seb Zarrilli maintained his team’s momentum by recognizing that the two political nicknames JP was looking for were Tories and Whigs. English cathedrals took Sussex to 110, a mere 30 points behind. Anushka Davé wiped out 10 of that deficit, recognizing a definition of ether for the next starter. One bonus on test cricket meant that the gap between the two teams was down to 15. This, I’m pleased to say, was getting to be rather exciting. A UC special asking for a three country route from the Aegean to the Baltic and starting with Turkey saw Jethro Waldron correctly answer Georgia and Russia. US direct action in foreign countries provided Queen’s with a timely full house. Alastair Mallon identified a speech by Edmund Burke earning the dubious reward of bonuses on mutagenic agents in biochemistry. No, me neither. Queen’s neither as well, for that matter. Queen’s had obviously decided to close the show, and had switched back into buzzing overdrive, as Jethro Waldron buzzed in to recognize WH Auden’s “The Sea and the Mirror” as being linked to “The Tempest”. US States and their borders brought two points to put them over the event horizon at 195. In fact that was the last event of the quiz, since the gong sounded. Queen’s won comfortably in the end with 195 to Sussex’s 125.
Rather inexplicably JP seemed to be blaming Sussex’s defeat on one or two of their interventions. No. Wrong. Queen’s won because they outbuzzed Sussex – pure and simple. No shame to Sussex, and more power to Queen’s’ collective elbow. Well played.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
Sometimes I get a little annoyed with our JP. Faced with the picture bonuses, Queen’s had no idea of the second one, and so rather than not give an answer, came up with the answer of an eminent artist who might well have won the Turner Prize, Tracey Emin. JP did his famous ‘bad smell’ expression, and then snorted “It’s nothing LIKE Tracey Emin!” To react like this is to miss the point – to hit and hope like this at least gives you a slim chance of being right. To say that you don’t know gives you no chance. Thus cowed, Queen’s felt obligated to pass on the last photo. Grrr.
Next to receive his scorn was Seb Zarilli, whose suggestion that Benjamin Franklin might have made a speech in the House of Commons in 1774 was greeted with JP’s best Lady Bracknell expression. “WHAT???? NO!”
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week