Friday, 13 January 2017

University Challenge: Round Two: Peterhouse, Cambridge v. Corpus Christi, Oxford

Here we are, dearly beloved, at the last of our 2nd round matches, and what an enjoyable round it has been so far, hasn’t it. Peterhouse were represented by Ephraim Levinson, Oliver Sweetenham,  Xiao Lin and their skipper Natasha Voake, while opponents Corpus Christi were represented by Tom Fleet, Emma Johnson, Adam Wright and skipper Nikhil Venkatesh

Let us begin. You have a pithy quote from a literary man in 1903 – so what you do is mentally decide quickly between Shaw, Wilde and Twain and buzz right in. That’s what Nikhil Venkatesh did on the first starter, and going for Shaw he was right as well. This brought up a set of bonuses on quotes about lions, and they managed a full house. For the second starter Tom Fleet was first in to say that Qatar has the world’s third largest reserves of natural gas. This time they only managed two bonuses on Ancient Greek Scientists. Nonetheless, this was a confident start from Corpus Christi. Now, as it happens I did know the island of Benbecula between North and South Uist, so I was in with the first three letters rather quicker than Nikhil Venkatesh, but that didn’t matter since he was in more quickly than anyone in Peterhouse. Words on world war II propaganda posters brought us all a full house. This meant that Corpus Christi had put on 70 unanswered points. There was a long way to go, but it was an ominous start for Peterhouse. High time then for Xiao Lin to take his team’s first starter, knowing the Harvard system for the classification of stars. 2 bonuses on Venice put a healthier complexion on the score. This brought us to the picture starter, and a word cloud. I won’t lie, I like these, and was given the idea that this was Shylock in the Merchant of Venice by the prominence of the word ducats. Oliver Sweetenham took that one. Three more of the same provided 10 more points, and reduced the gap to 30 points on the cusp of the ten minute mark. Now, ladies and gents, it appeared that we had a game on our hands.

A real buzzer race saw Emma Johnson provide the correct answer of narcissism from a gentle starter, and this earned her team a set of bonuses on scientific units. – Ullo – thought I – chance of a lap of honour around the living room here, son. Astronomical Unit was too easy, so I remained seated. However when I dredged up Angstrom (as in Rabbit?) there was no holding me back. Corpus Christi managed the same two answers, but they also managed the last – arcminute, which needless to say I didn’t. My excuse? Knackered from running around the living room. Now, my answer of choice for ‘North European philosopher’ has for several years been Kierkegaard, and both I and Oliver Sweetenham were right to say so. People buried in Highgate Cemetery  - apparently there are other people than Karl Marx buried there – brought me two, but Peterhouse a full house. Now, soon as the next starter revealed that we were looking for a French Marquis who fought in the American War of Independence both Natasha Voake and I answered Lafayette. Ships in literature sounded full of eastern promise, but a little surprisingly Peterhouse missed out on “The Cruel Sea”. Perhaps Nicholas Monsarrat has gone out of fashion. They picked up the next two bonuses, still, and the gap now stood at a single starter. This was halved when Nikhil Venkatesh interrupted wrongly on a question about a curve – ask me no more about that one, I’m surprised I understood even that much of the question. Nobody had it. Now, I loved the next question as it was one of those lovely old quiz chestnuts that neither team got, but every hoary, old pub quizzer watching will have instantly shouted out the answer to. The first registered trademark was the Bass brewery red triangle. A quote from Ernest Hemingway about Marlene Dietrich was correctly identified by Nikhil Venkatesh to take Corpus Christi’s score to triple figures. Royal matriarchs only provided a single bonus, but stretched the lead to 20 points. For the music starter nobody recognised the music of Steve Reich, or Steve Who? as he is known in LAM towers. Adam Wright knew that it is bloomin difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. The music bonuses followed – all of which were pieces of music inspired by train travel – sadly the theme music of Thomas the Tank Engine was not one of them. One was taken. Oliver Sweetenham knew that the Louisiana Purchase took place in the 1800s. Tree families brought Peterhouse the five points they needed to break into triple figures. On the cusp of 20 minutes, then, the scores revealed that the two teams had pretty much stood toe to toe trading bows on equal terms for the last 10 minutes, as Corpus Christi led 120 – 100.

Going into the last few minutes then it very much looked as if it would go to whichever team kept their nerve, and found their best buzzer form. Oliver Sweetenham halved the deficit, knowing “Aspects of the Novel”. (Read it, but much preferred the Harry Potter books). Films depicting artists provided the two bonuses which wiped out the rest of it. What a good match. Ziao Lin was in too early for the next starter, and forfeited five points. Had he waited it became obvious, even to me, that the answer required was phaser. Adam Wright accepted that windfall. It proved to be even more costly when Corpus Christi devoured a full set on German prepositions. And so to the 2nd picture starter. Tom Fleet recognised a painting of John Ruskin – now there was a strange man. (Ruskin, that is, not Tom Fleet). The bonuses provided five more points. It’s at times like these you want your team mates to be coming up with great starters, and Emma Johnson did just that with the terms Noesis and prognosis. Ancient Mexico provided nothing, but it ran the clock down, and with a 55 point lead that was all in Corpus Christi’s favour. Ephraim Levinson recognised chapter titles from “A Tale of Two Cities”. If they could manage a full house. . . Well, not quite. The gap reduced to 35 though. 30 when Tom Fleet buzzed in too early for the next starter, picking the wrong LBJ. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know Little Brown Jobs as a term used by birdwatchers either. Still Oliver Sweetenham took the next starter with the Lombards. If they could take a full house now, even if they could do that, would there be enough time? There was, but an incompletely answered set only reduced the gap to 15. Mind you, that was just one starter and a bonus – 2 for a win. Xiao Lin had a punt at the next starter on square numbers. He lost nowt, but gained nowt either. Nikhil Venkatesh didn’t get the right answer either, but his team was in the lead. Nobody knew you get an altar in front of a reredos. However the next starter was a buzzer race, and it, was won by Emma Johnson, as indeed the game was by Corpus Christi. No time for bonuses, and a win in by 175 – 150. Top class work by both teams, a fantastic match, and no shame for Peterhouse at all.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Nothing to report which could have even the pickiest critic reaching for a green biro, I’m afraid to say.

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

Poplars belong to the same family of trees as willows. 


Jack said...

Excellent close match between two well matched teams to finish off what you rightly say has been a good second round. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's been a very good series so far; some excellent close matches, and some excellent team efforts by the teams involved. Kudos to all of them.

Lets hope the group stage can keep this up; first match on Monday, between Wolfson and Balliol, should hopefully be a cracker given the teams' previous matches.

Will G said...

I thought Wilde was dead by 1903! :)

Stephen Follows said...

By far the most obscure set of music bonuses in the history of UC, in the humble opinion of a specialist classical music question setter. There are several well-known pieces of classical music about trains (by Honegger, Villa-Lobos and Britten, among others), but weirdly the writers ignored all of them.

By the way, it was 'gnosis' with 'prognosis', not 'noesis' - the point of the question was that the two words differed only by a prefix.

Londinius said...

Wilde- D'0h! *blush*
Gnosis - yeah, sorry. I was copying it off the subtitles on the iplayer.