Tuesday, 7 February 2017

University Challenge Quarter Final Match: Edinburgh v. Birmingham

Edinburgh v. Birmingham

Already we’re on to the third of these quarter final matches. Edinburgh, represented by Luke Dale, Euan Smith, Emily Goddard and their captain, Joe Boyle, had shipped the highest aggregate of points of all of our quarter finalists in their first two matches, and shown great nerve in coming through a second round tie break against the Open University. Opponents Birmingham represented by Elliot Jan-Smith, Fraser Sutherland, Chris Rouse and skipper George Greenlees had scored the lowest aggregate of any of the quarter finalists. Tricky to pick a winner here, but for both teams it represented an excellent chance of getting one foot into the semis. 

Now, as it happened I did know that Ottawa was once called Bytown, but once JP mentioned the St. Lawrence river then it was a straight buzzer race, which was won by George Geenless. This brought up a set of bonuses on British Prime Ministers, of which they answered two. English philosopher – 1789 – sounds like Bentham, thought I. Chris Rouse thought the same for the second starter, and we were both right. Bonuses on the late Johan Cruyff brought another two correct answers, and pretty much a dream start for Birmingham. It was a start which became slightly less good as Frazer Sutherland interrupted incorrectly over the cause of death of various fictional characters. I had it from Mimi and Smike, and given a free run at the question Emily Goddard correctly supplied tuberculosis. 2 correct answers on the Mohs scale of hardness followed. Luke Dale knew that the Kroll process is used in the manufacture of titanium. Countries and their relative sizes produced a good and surprisingly gettable UC special set – guessable, but not for Edinburgh. No matter. So to the picture starter, which showed us the flag of the Basque country. More flags of autonomous Spanish regions provided five more points, and that was enough to give Birmingham a lead of 45 – 30 at the ten minute mark.  

The actor who played Thorin Oakenshield and Guy of Gisborne, Richard Armitage, gave Euan Smith his first starter. Now, for some reason I really enjoy the way that Euan Smith waggles his head from side to side and leans into the microphone when he answers a starter. Languages of the People’s Republic of China didn’t provide any help in the way of bonuses. George Greenlees knew that the German city which gives its name to a typed of defence against allegations is the Nuremberg – or orders are orders – defence. Methods in statistics meant nowt to me, but Birmingham managed to get 5 points from them. Now, I’ll be honest, I was surprised that the first two words of the next starter- prairie style – weren’t enough by themselves to give the teams the answer Frank Lloyd Wright. A moment or two later though I was delighted to see Euan Lloyd buzz in with the correct answer. The following bonuses were on Ruth Ozeki (yes, alright, Ruth Who?) and proved surprisingly guessable, enough to take Edinburgh into the lead. So to the music starter, and Euan Smith won the buzzer race to identify the not exactly dulcet tones of groany old Bruce Springsteen. In the music bonuses I rather enjoyed Edinburgh’s misidentification of Tina Turner as the late Bon Scott of AC/DC. Still, for all that they weren’t exactly despatching the bonuses to the boundary, you felt that Edinburgh were definitely starting to get the upper hand on the buzzer, and at the end of the day that is often decisive. George Greenlees threw caution to the wind on the starter which followed, asking for a Scottish philosopher, and paid 5 points for the privilege. This allowed Euan Smith in with his namesake Adam. Diaresis (gesundheit) brought just the one bonus. A UC special set on chemicals led to Emily Goddard supplying the correct answer of table salt. The human muscular system mightn’t have provided a lot in terms of points, but the lead was growing. Admittedly, not growing very quickly, but there was an air of inevitability about it. It seemed like a long time since Birmingham had managed to answer a starter, so it was something of a relief when Elliot Jan-Smith correctly identified words linked by a grave accent. A full house on words derived from the Aztec Nahautl language significantly narrowed the gap, and despite Edinburgh’s superiority on the buzzer they only led by 110 – 80 at the 20 minute mark.  

For the second picture starter both Fraser Sutherland and I identified a Caravaggio painting of Bacchus, God of wine (and not Toe-Bacchus, god of nicotine. Thank Mr. Browning, my A Level English teacher for that one.) They took a great full house of bonuses on more paintings of bacchanalia, and were right back in the competition, only 5 points behind. A great UC special starter saw Euan Smith correctly answered that two artists with names which were latin words for he remains and he advises were Manet and Monet, or perhaps vice versa. Works with titles that contain a member of the corvidae, or crow family were not, frankly, the hardest set of bonuses we’ll ever hear, and at last Edinburgh managed to post a full house. Asked for a specific type of sedimentary rock, George Greenlees supplied the correct answer of sandstone. They couldn’t manage a full house on mountains, but it narrowed the gape to less than a full house. Which lengthened as Euan Smith answered the next starter about a Robert Graves novel about Milton’s wife. No bonuses were taken on electronics. Mr. Smith’s superiority on the buzzer was underlined when he came in very early to identify Henry V for the next starter. A couple of bonuses on the Adriatic stretched the lead to 35 points. Luke Dale pretty much sealed the win with the term ‘placental mammals’ . Animals whose names contained repeated letter sequences provided much hilarity for Edinburgh, but not a lot of points. Of course it was that man Smith who supplied the answer to the next starter – Beaudrillard. A full house on pastries and pastry took them through the 200 mark and there was still time for a UC special, asking for the 1913 stage work whose protagonist has a surname rhyming with that of the winner of the 2012 Tour de France. Euan Smith worked it out extremely quickly – Wiggins – Higgins – Pygmalion. There was time for them to take one bonus on History, and then that was it, a win by 220 – 125. My gut feeling is that both teams will need to do better to reach the semis – Edinburgh in their bonus conversion rate, and Birmingham in their buzzer work. Time will tell.  

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When Edinburgh found they knew the corvidae bonuses they cut JP off halfway through the questions, and he whined at the injustice – You might at least have let me finish.  

Jez, please try a little harder, mate, for I’m seriously thinking about dropping this section of the reviews for good.  

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

Strudel is actually the German for whirlpool.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Excellent performance by Edinburgh again; a third impressive performance against strong opponents, Mr Smith's nine starters making up for a middling bonus rate of 18/39, marks them down as a team that the other teams in the qualifying round of the QFs should watch out for. But a good effort by Birmingham too, with Mr Greenlees again showing good form with four starters, and a bonus rate of 14/21; that scoreline definitely doesn't do them justice, they were very much in it right until Edinburgh ran away at the end. Definitely not out of it yet.

On Monday, I am reliably informed it is Emmanuel vs Corpus Christi, in the first qualifying match.