Saturday, 3 December 2016

University Challenge Round Two: SOAS v. Emmanuel, Cambridge


Right, dearly beloved, it’s the one we’ve been waiting for – SOAS, the team that fortifies the over-forties (and to be fair the under-forties as well) v. Emmanuel, Cambridge, led by our very own Bobby Seagull. SOAS were represented by David Bostock, Magda Biran-Taylor, Odette Chalaby and captain Henry Edwards. Bobby’s able lieutenants for Emmanuel were Tom Hill, Leah Ward and Bruno Barton-Singer.

Captain Bobby took a flyer on the first question, but didn’t know that Sir Sonny Ramphal amongst others had been a former Secretary General of the Commonwealth. That lost five and allowed Magda Biran-Taylor to take first blood for SOAS. Terms that were first coined during the first World War netted a further 15 points from a full house. A great buzz from Magda Biran-Taylor identified Churchill and Asquith as the two men from the 1906 Liberal Government who would be Chancellor, Home Secretary and Prime Minister during their careers. Be honest, how many of us would have said Lloyd George, forgetting that Churchill crossed the floor of the House to join the Liberals in the early 20th century? I did. Bonuses on novels whose titles are pronouns provided a lovely UC set, and another 15 points. In fairly short order SOAS had established a lead of 55. What was going on here? Nobody knew some historical regions of Latvia. Leah Ward put Emma into the black by recognising the speed of light. Physics bonuses gave them another 5 points, and there wasn’t even a sniff of a lap of honour round the living room for yrs truly. Emma had seemingly set themselves the tactic of using lightning buzzing to stun SOAS into submission, however it wasn’t quite coming off yet, since Leah Ward buzzed in too early and dropped five on the next question. She gave Cancer when Tropic was required. Hard lines. SOAS couldn’t capitalise this time. The tactics paid dividends though, when Leah Ward buzzed in early after hearing “The History of a Young Lady” with the correct answer “Clarissa”. You can afford a couple of misfires when you can buzz that quickly. Leeds Blue plaques gave them just one bonus. I knew the last one myself, because Samuel Smiles, author of Self Help might well also have a blue plaque in Leeds, but he had one in Granville Park Road in Lewisham too, and I know that since it was just a matter of yards away from my student hall, all those years ago. *sigh*. For the picture starter, Bruno Barton-Singer identified the name Archimedes as written in the modern Greek alphabet. Good shout that. Three more of the same taken in quick succession earned an approving well done from JP. At the ten minute mark then the gap had been reduced to a mere 5 points, and things were looking ominous for SOAS now that the Emma juggernaut was gaining momentum.

Bruno Barton-Singer knew about Durkheim to earn the lead, and also a set of bonuses on Shakespeare sonnets. Emma had two and I had a full house – one of precious few in this show. *LAP OF HONOUR WARNING* I recognised the definition of peristalsis just before Tom Hill buzzed in to confirm my answer. Plant names were quite a happy hunting ground for me as well, while Emma managed 1. I loved that Bobby for a brief moment thought that JP had said ‘sacrificial insects’ rather than ‘sacrificial incense’. Henry Edwards brought his team back into the competition knowing that it was Ovid who put his exile down to a poem and a mistake. First rule of living in the Roman Empire, Ovid old son, don’t pee the Emperor  off. Indian states gave me nothing, but SOAS managed one. To be fair to JP he managed to keep a straight face when he had to read out the title “Roger the Rabbit” (make up your own punchlines please) for the answer to the next starter. Bruno Barton-Singer knew that China is one of the two non contiguous countries that share borders with 5 stans. (Laurel? – Lee? – Wawrinka? - Boardman? – Flashman? ) Dairy farming in the UK was as unproductive as it sounds and yielded nowt. Unusually I was in extremely quickly for the music starter, just ahead of Tom Hill who was the first to recognise George Gerschwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. More recordings held within the collection of the US Library of Congress yielded a full set for Emma. Now, another slightly controversial point came next. In answer to the next question Miranda Biran-Taylor clearly said the Hapgar score with an H. JP accepted it, but corrected her with the Apgar score with an A. Look, let’s not make a big thing out of this – it didn’t affect the outcome of the competition. I really like SOAS as a team, and I didn’t want to see them get well beaten. But please, a wrong answer is a wrong answer. If the question had wanted the answer Paris, and you said Daris, I guarantee you would not be given the point. Sorry to be so pedantic, but you know, wrong is wrong. Works on the shortlist of academic books that changed the world were a very nice set, and SOAS duly answered all of them, keeping themselves in the game. Now, I’m sorry, but when both teams had the sense to wait when asked about Mirandese until they were told it is spoken in the region around Miranda du Duoro, Duoro itself should have been enough to point at Portugal. Both teams should count that as gettable points dropped. Bruno Barton-Singer, for whom this ten minute period had proven exceptionally fruitful, recognised clues to the word spiral. Chromosmal proteins made me very happy when one of the team echoed what was going through my head saying ‘I don’t understand any of that!’ I hear you there, brother, I hear you. When they were finished, Emma led by 125 to 90. They were in the driving seat, but that was not by any means a winning lead yet.

That man Barton-Singer took the next starter with literary references to the Ash tree. Symphonic music brought a further 10 points. The second picture starter showed a photograph of Quito. Hardly surprisingly this went begging. The next starter saw Magda Biran-Taylor incorrectly interrupt, which gave the almost inevitable Bruno Barton-Singer the chance to give us foal – mole and vole. Photos of other UNESCO cities brought 5 more points to their growing lead. For the next starter Bobby beat his own team mate to give the answer Cultural Hegemony after the bare minimum of the question had been asked. Years of the 19th century ending in the number 6 provided me with another full house, and Emma with 10 more points. The lead was just one bonus away from being triple figures. David Bostock reduced arrears, recognising a reference to Mozart. Film directors of the silent era provided them with 10 more points. Something about nitrogen in nitric acid gave Bruno Barton-Singer another starter, although JP had to pump him for whether the answer was plus or minus five. French nobel Literature laureates provided much amusement, when for the last answer Tom Hill smilingly turned to Bobby and said – It’s the one you mentioned on the train! – Nice one. Needless to say they didn’t quite dredge it up. Leah Chalaby knew the state of Tennessee – and well done to SOAS for keeping buzzing at this stage when the game had clearly slipped away from them. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles gave them a full house. Ah, this encapsulated the contest. When they got a chance, SOAS showed their class with the bonuses. I bet they had a very healthy conversion rate for the show. But . . . you gotta win the buzzer race to win the show. Or put it another way, its bonuses for show, but starters for dough. The gong sounded before the next question was finished, and the final score was 195 to 130. Well played both teams, and Emma – looking good for the quarters.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

He really has been taking his happy pills, has our Jez. When Bobby announced the answer to the last music bonus as “Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five” JP practically jumped out of his seat with elation. “VERY good!” he cried. Was he by any chance a fan of their work back in the day? I think we should be told.

I think he was getting frustrated with Bruno Barton-Singer answering most of the starters by the end of the match, though. When he answered the nitrogen one with five JP asked “specifically?”, and then when supplied the correct answer of plus five, he dismissed it sniffily with “Of course”. There’s no of course about it Jez, and don’t act as if you knew and it was obvious, because you didn’t, and it wasn’t.

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

A guy called Le Prince took what were probably the world’s first moving pictures, of Leeds Bridge.

4 comments:

Jack said...

You are correct in thinking it was a match won on the buzzer Dave; Emmanuel correctly answered twice as many starters as SOAS, but their bonus rate was just 17/36, compared to SOAS's impressive 15/18.

Unlucky to SOAS to go out at this stage, but nothing to be ashamed of. And kudos to Emmanuel on a second good display against strong opposition. If they can keep up that buzzer form in the group stage, and improve their bonus work, they could be dangerous.

On Monday, we know that Wolfson of Cambridge will be one of the teams, and Jesus of Cambridge look like favourites to be their opponents.

Londinius said...

Thanks Jack. Yes, a shame about SOAS, but if you can't keep up on the buzzer you are going to be found out sooner or later, I'm afraid. They can be perfectly proud of what they achieved this series.

Magda Biran-Taylor said...

If we're really going to be that picky about Apgar/Hapgar then maybe we should also consider the inordinately long discussions Emmanuel had over some of their bonus answers ........but then again, 'tis but a quiz!!! It was enormous fun to take part however and v amusing to see how seriously it is taken!

Londinius said...

Hello Magda, and congratulations on your performances in the series. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. Nothing personal in the comment about Apgar/Hapgar - I would have made the same comment if it had been an Emmanuel answer.