So here we are, dearly beloved, back with proper teams in a proper contest after the seasonal excesses of the Christmas specials. Bristol were represented by Joe Rolleston, Claire Jackson, Michael Tomsett and skipper Alice Clarke. Oriel were represented by Owen Monaghan, Alex Siantonas, Tobias Thornes and captain Nathan Helms.
When you hear the words ‘For Valour’ you have to shove the bell through the desk and give the answer “Victoria Cross”, which is exactly what Joe Rolleston did. Bristol did rather well, I thought, to get a full set on European languages. Now, I don’t know a lot about thermodynamics, but the little I do know prompted me to give the answer entropy for the next starter. Michael Tomsett did exactly the same, and this was only the start of what was going to prove a very successful evening for him. A distinctly gettable set on marine mammals made sure that both of us had scored 2 consecutive full houses to start the competition. That run ended for Bristol when Alex Siantonas gave the answer that it was John Lennon who was erroneously believed to have said that Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. I didn’t know that was a misquote. Writers’ middle names brought them 2 bonuses – meanwhile on the Clark sofa I had answered all 12 questions so far correctly. I hadn’t answered when Michael Tomsett made a rare error by interrupting the next starter incorrectly, however once JP mentioned Camelford as one of the boroughs in the county in question I did know it was Cornwall. Oriel couldn’t capitalise. Like Claire Jackson I knew that the greek for ‘naked seed’ is gymnosperm, and this was followed by a UC special set on words which differ from a word in the NATO phonetic alphabet by a single letter. We both had hovel and hotel, I had ocho and echo which Bristol missed, and we both had Sulu and Zulu. 17 questions in and I had yet to drop one. That nonsense all ended with the picture starter, though. We saw a map of the provinces of the Netherlands with one highlighted. I didn’t know what it was, but Michael Tomsett knew Friesland when he saw it. The team also knew two more of the same for the bonuses. As we approached the ten minute mark Bristol were doing extremely well, and things looked ominous for Oriel, who were being comprehensively beaten to the buzzer, and lagged by 85 – 20.
The moment I heard the words ‘ novel of 1815’ I immediately said “Emma”. Only because the Prince Regent was my semi final specialist subject in MM, and I knew he was a massive fan and wanted the novel, published in 1815, dedicated to him. Jane Austen was not a fan of his at all, but gave him the dedication anyway. Tobias Thornes didn’t sound at al certain, but he gave the correct answer anyway. This brought Oriel a set of bonuses on Dickens, and they managed one of a rather gettable set. Still, at least their score was moving in the right direction, especially since Nahtan Helms took the next starter on a literary prize in Brazil. Two bonuses on Scientific principles named after specific scientists narrowed the deficit to 30 points. I’ll be honest, I know nothing about the works of Peter Atkins, but Michael Tomsett did to take the next starter. The Lake District bonuses did none of us any favours. Time for the music starter. Now, I’ll be honest, whenever JP announces that it’s a German composer, if it’s not obviously Wagner (and when I say obviously, I mean ‘Kill de wabbit’ type obviously) I always go for Beethoven – and I’m right far more often than I’m wrong. Joe Rolleston did the same and we were both right. More German violin concerti brought another 5 points. Michael Tomsett knew the Orwell term ‘memory hole’ from 1984. Virginia Woolf brought another 2 correct answers. The next starter asked for the title of a novel which I enjoyed far, far more than I ever enjoyed anything Virginia Woolf wrote, and it was Claire Jackson who recognised it as Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. Now, the second chemical bonus saw the arrival of the lap of honour around the living room as the phrase ‘covalent bonding’ came from heaven alone knows where. For a bow I also correctly guessed Linus Pauling for the next answer – these two were the ones which Bristol managed as well. Alex Siantonas stopped the rot for Oriel, knowing that Francis Bacon wrote the 1605 work “The Advancement of Learning”. Bonuses on 20th century China meant that by the 20 minute mark Oriel trailed Bristol by 75 to 150.
Their plight was not helped any when Alice Clarke correctly identified a photograph of Kim Cattrall playing Cleopatra for the 2nd picture starter. 3 more very distinguished Cleopatras only brought 5 more points, but they ran the clock down a little which was just as important. That man Tomsett knew that a chemical formula we were given makes ammonium chloride. A UC special set using the names of counties of Northern Ireland brought them to the brink of a double century, and an extremely early buzz which saw Michael Tomsett identify the South African Limpopo province brought them even closer. A full house on National Parks put them comfortably beyond Oriel’s reach. Nobody knew the French naturalist Buffon – didn’t he go on to keep goal for Italy? I knew that the last flavour of quark alphabetically is Up – and so did Claire Jackson. 2 bonuses on Astronomy added a little gilding to the score. More was applied when Michael Tomsett knew that the Alto Duoro wine region is in Portugal. Once again they took 2 bonuses from a set on Genoa. Claire Jackson took a great answer on the next starter, knowing that the current Geological era is the Phanerozoic. One bonus on art and music was taken before the going, with the final score being 265 to 70 in Oriel’s favour.
An impressive performance – watch out for Bristol in the quarters.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
The best thing about the Christmas specials was seeing JP be as snappy towards the ‘celeb’ teams as he used to be to the student teams. All we got in this was his observation at the end, when he rubbed salt into the Oriel wounds by telling them ‘you seemed to be asleep most of the time”. This wouldn’t be the Cambridge man having a sly dig at the chaps from Oxford would it, by any chance?
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
During World War II Chiang Kai Shek was nicknamed Cash My Cheque due to his constant demands for financial support from the Allies.