Bristol v. Corpus Christi, Oxford
Here we are then, peeps, Bristol v. Corpus Christi. There were a couple of ways of looking at this one prior to the match starting. On the one hand you might have said that Bristol looked one of the most impressive teams in the first two rounds of the competition, while Corpus Christi had faced stiff challenges in both rounds, which had both gone right to the wire. Advantage Bristol? Well, maybe. On the other hand, you could say that after their first two matches Corpus Christi were battle hardened, while we did not yet know whether Bristol could guts out a win if need be. Advantage Corpus Christi? Time would tell.
Bristol, then, were represented by Joe Rolleston, Claire Jackson, Michael Tomsett and skipper Alice Clarke, and Corpus Christi by Tom Fleet, Emma Johnson, Adam Wright and skipper Nikhil Venkatesh.
I’ll admit, it took me a long time, as it did both teams, to work out a long definition in the first starter was actually looking for the term yoga. Nikhil Venkatesh had that one. Shakespeare and World War I brought one bonus, and to be fair this was a tricky set. Neither team knew that the Investiture Controversy with the papacy transpired during the 11th century. Claire Jackson broke the Bristol duck knowing that the largest methane sea on Saturn’s moon, Titan is named after the kraken. Now, be honest, how many of you, when JP announced that the next set of bonuses were all on pirates, went “Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”? Oh, just me then. Two bonuses gave Bristol the lead. Alice Clarke was rather unlucky to lose five points for macaroni verse rather than macaronic verse, but Corpus Christi couldn’t capitalise. (Alliteration thrown in for free, all part of the service today). The next starter saw the first real buzzer race, which was clearly won by Nikhil Venkatesh who identified Porfirio Diaz as a former president of Mexico. Bonuses on pairs of anagrams brought them two more correct answers. Bristol’s star buzzer of earlier rounds, Michael Tomsett, was first to win the buzzer race for the picture starter which showed us a Maltese Cross. (How do you make a Maltese cross? Well, first you make an arrowhead shape pointing from South to North, and use a chevron for its base, then you make three more of the same shape, one for each main point of the compass. Or you could just make stupid jokes about how you make a Maltese person angry.) More crosses provided just one correct answer. Nikhil Venkatesh, who was having a very successful match so far, correctly guessed that Jonathan Swift coined the term ‘sweetness and light’ for the next starter, and 2 bonuses on the ill fated League of Nations brought them up to 55 at the ten minute mark, 25 points ahead of Bristol.
For the next starter on anatomy Adam Wright knew his left atrium from his right ventricle and vice versa, and this brought up bonuses on the Old Testament. A full house was taken, I think for the first time in the match. Claire Jackson won the buzzer race for the next starter about an 1857 novel in which a doctor’s wife has a disastrous affair, sadly, though she provided an incorrect answer. It fell to Emma Johnson to correctly answer Madame Bovary. A couple of bonuses on diseases brought them to triple figures. Undaunted by the previous question, Claire Jackson buzzed in successfully to give the answer limestone to a WH Auden definition of a type of rock. They managed to answer two bonuses on short stories. Unsurprisingly neither team recognised Engelbert Humperdick – no jokes please – for the music starter. Michael Tomsett and I both knew that Dresden in the capital of Saxony, and this earned the music bonuses. Three examples of women posing as men in opera brought another 5 much needed points. Emma Johnson knew that Housekeeping was the first novel of Marilynne Robinson. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from saying ‘Mrs. Beeton’. European royalty brought nothing more to their score. Synchrotron radiation meant nowt to me, but it was meat and drink to Adam Wright. The bonuses which followed, on Geometry, were good for another ten points, and by this time there was a real sense that Corpus Christi were stretching the elastic which bound them to Bristol to breaking point. Now, there’s 2 countries on the island of New Guinea – obviously Papua New Guinea, but also the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya. So if you’re asked – which country on the island of New Guinea you go for Indonesia, and 90 times out of 100 you’ll be right. Adam Wright was. The cashew family brought, almost inevitably, 2 correct answers and this meant that Corpus Christi led by 150 – 60. Not quite an unassailable lead, but Bristol would need to rediscover their form to make any impression now.
Tom Fleet was the first to recognise a photograph of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. More 9th century portrait photographs weren’t all easy, and like me they only managed to find a trollop. Sorry, I’ll read that again. They only managed to find A. Trollope. Corpus Christi were carrying all before them at this stage, and Tom Fleet took his second consecutive starter, being very quickly in with Studio Ghibli. Nope, me neither. A nice UC special set followed, with two works with (vaguely) similar titles and their authors being asked for – eg Roxana and Romola. They failed on the bonuses – which gave me a rare full house in this contest – but provided amusement when they mulled over just giving ‘Bronte’ for the author of Shirley, at which the skipper scoffed – well he’s not going to accept just Bronte, is he? – No, I dare say he wouldn’t have. Nothing daunted, Emma Johnson took the next literary starter, recognising the last words of the play “King Lear”. Poor old Bristol at this stage seemed to have just been completely battered into submission. Provinces of Argentina only provided a single bonus, but it was all academic by now, despite there still being 3 and a half minutes to go. Emma Johnson took a second consecutive starter, knowing Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton are alter egos of Avengers – Black Widow and Hawkeye respectively. With two out of three bonuses on international law, Corpus Christi passed through the 200 barrier, while Bristol were becalmed some distance the wrong side of the 100 barrier. Now look, you know I don’t have a clue about what a vacuole is, but Adam Wright did and that’s good enough for me. Two bonuses on definitions of a metre followed. A UC special defined the words – us – and - her – and then dared the teams to put them together to make a word. Adam Wright gave us usher. Men born in 1916 brought Corpus Christi – wait for it – 10 points. Claire Jackson stopped the rot, knowing all about recessive genes. You sensed this would be too little too late to give Bristol the chance of reaching triple figures and indeed, that was it as the gong sounded at that point.
Corpus Christi scored an emphatic victory by 250 – 70. They must now be taken very seriously indeed. As for Bristol, well, there’s still everything to play for. They were comprehensively outbuzzed in this contest, but whether is just a one off bad night at the office, or whether they flattered to deceive in earlier rounds remains to be seen.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
We had a promising start from the great man, when he smilingly told Nikhil Venkatesh that he looked astonished that the answer yoga could be so easy. I tried yoga once, and easy it was not. His genial manner continued when the team suggested Rosalind for one of the Shakespeare answers as the name of a city which featured in a world war I battle. He laughed, then gently chided “You been there?”
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know of the Week
An operatic role in which a female character poses as a male is known as a ‘breeches role’