Saturday, 18 March 2017

University Challenge - Sudden Death Quarter Final - Warwick v. Wolfson, Cambridge

By the time we get to this stage, the sudden death quarter final, the chances are that we’re going to lose a good team, with maybe one of the stars of the series so far. Which brings us to Warwick v. Wolfson, Cambridge. Both Sophie Rudd of Warwick, and Eric Monkman of Wolfson could claim to be amongst the best buzzers of the series so far, but the reality of the situation was that we were going to be losing one of them – but which one? Warwick were represented by Jamie Keschner -Lycett, the reserve player, in for Sophie Hobbs,and regulars Sophie Rudd, Thomas Van and skipper Giles Hutchings. As for Wolfson, they fielded an unchanged team in Justin Yang, Ben Chaudri, Paul Cosgrove and their irrepressible skipper Eric Monkman.

Given a quote from Queen Victoria about an author, Thomas Van came in too early, ad even as he offered the answer of Disraeli he was apologising, knowing it was wrong. Given the detail that he died in 1870, Eric Monkman took the points by suggesting Charles Dickens. If you’re asked about a Victorian author and you don’t know the answer, then Dickens is the equivalent of backing the favourite in a greyhound race. You won’t always get your money back, but you’ll do so far more often than if you back the outsider. This brought up a set of bonuses on railway architecture. Yum yum, thought I. Full house to me – 2 to Wolfson. We were then asked for the Italian title of a painting which was described by JP. First in was Justin Yang with Primavera. The words of William Hazlitt describing the Romantic poets brought us both a full house, and gave Wolfson an early lead of 50 points. Sophie Rudd might not have been feeling stress and strain, but she gave them as the correct answer to the next starter. Some physics thing I think. 2 bonuses on China served to reduce the gap somewhat. Eric Monkman knew that petition principia equates to the English phrase – begging the question. Good shout, that one. Physics and astronomy terms containing the word black brought neither of us any points. For the picture starter we saw a latin phrase – num custos fratris mei sum? – which even my latin O Level was enough tell me meant – am I my brother’s keeper? Eric Monkman took starter number 3 with that one. More quotations brought a full house for both of us. Sophie Rudd managed her second starter, and was in very quickly for a set of words whose only consonants were c and d – as in cad. Here’s a question - How often do we see UC teams undone by relatively easy sports questions? This is what happened to Warwick, as a relatively gentle set of tennis questions beat them in straight sets. At just past the 10 minute mark Wolfson led 85 – 25, and Eric Monkman was having the better of his buzzer arm wrestle with Sophie Rudd.

I was surprised that neither of such able teams knew that Sir John Vanburgh designed both Castle Howard and Blenheim Palace. I’ve never heard of the Narrow Road to the Deep North but Giles Hutchings had which brought him the next starter. Two timely bonuses on sea birds followed. Now, when you hear ‘dancer’ and ‘choreographer’ and any reference to America, you’ll not go far wrong by throwing caution to the wind and buzzing in with Isadora Duncan. That’s exactly what Justin Yang did to win the next starter. A difficult set on Celtic kingdoms brought just the one bonus, enough to bring up a triple figure score. Lord John Russell’s definition of a proverb brought Eric Monkman starter number 4. A full set on psychology meant that the gap between the teams had stretched to 80, and was looking ominous. Now, coming to the music starter, I do wonder if Wolfson had agreed before hand that if they got an opera, one of them would hit and hope with Carmen. Hat’s what Ben Chaudri did. Poor old Giles Hutchings knew it was Verdi, and knew it was a famous chorus, but zigged with Nabucco, while it was clearly the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore. The next starter was a gentle Geography question about the straits formerly known as the Hellespont. Eric Monkman won his 5th starter with that unconsidered trifle. This earned the music bonuses on operatic choruses. They made short work of these. For the next starter Sophie Rudd knew that pebbles fitted into the classification of grain sizes, and this gave Warwick 2 bonuses on Nobel Peace Prizes. Asked for an American poet usually known by his initials and his surname, Eric Monkman’s answer of T.S.Eliot sounds a decent shout. Not when JP finished the question, though, with the details that these are usually represented in lower case. Jamie Keschner -Lycett accepted that windfall. River gorges in France provided just the one correct answer, but at least Warwick were now within striking distance of triple figures. VICE magazine brought Eric Monkman starter number 6. Battles of the Wars of the Roses saw Wolfson only score the one correct answer, in a very gettable set. Nonetheless it restored an 80 point lead of 160 – 80 as we rounded upon the 20 minute mark.

Now, I knew that Delbert Mann directed Marty, so all of the films given by JP for the next starter were directed by men with that surname. Nobody knew that one. The Rhani of Jhansi was remarkably enough to give Eric Monkman his seventh starter with the Indian Mutiny. A full set on the Emperor Trajan brought a triple figure lead. Starter 8 for Eric Monkman followed swiftly as he identified a portrait of the young Napoleon Bonaparte for the second picture starter. For bonuses Wolfson were asked to identify the painters of three other portraits of Old Boney. They answered Jacques Louis David for the first two – which weren’t – and Delacroix for the third – which was David. C’est la vie. Eric Monkman wasn’t in particularly fast for the next starter, knowing that Jimmy Carter was president at the time of the three Mile Island accident, but he was still faster than any of the Warwick team and claimed starter number 8. They took the same bonus on currency crises that I took, with Zimbabwe. Didn’t matter that they only got the one – that lead was growing, and the clock was ticking down. Nobody knew a series of towers in Moscow. I got a bit frustrated when the words history of the French Revolution were given in the next starter, and nobody buzzed for ages. Almost reluctantly, it seemed, Thomas Van gave us Carlyle – eventually. Physical Chemistry provided one bonus, which was one more than I managed. Sophie Rudd now won a buzzer race, knowing that the South American River upon whose banks are two capital cities is the River Plate – Rio del Plata. Ages – mulitples of 13 – of political figures brought a timely full house, but by this time the game was over as a contest. Nonetheless Thomas Van took the next starter on Hemingway. Bonuses on taxonomic ranks in zoology brought 2 bonuses. Nobody knew the next starter about the atlas bone. It seemed that perhaps the Mighty Monkman had decided to take a breather at thus tail end of the match, because now it was Giles Hutchings who won the buzzer race to identify Richard Strauss. Bonuses on astronomy had the effect of reducing the gap to 50 – two full houses. Was there time? Well, there was time for Wolfson to lose 5 for an incorrect interruption, and time for Sophie Rudd to identify the Dukedom held by the eldest son of the reigning monarch as Cornwall. There was time enough for one bonus on Prime Ministers. That was it, though. Wolfson had won by 205 – 175. That sounds relatively close, but this was due to a splendid belated fightback, and was not really a reflection of the dominance of Wolfson, and Eric Monkman, for much of the contest. Hard lines Warwick, but well done for what you’ve achieved in this series.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Getting into the spirit of the thing, Eric Monkman offered a very dramatic reading of the quotation – He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword -. In years gone by JP might well have slapped him down verbally for such a performance, but in this show he merely chuckled and observed that Mr. M. would have made an excellent revivalist preacher. You’re becoming positively avuncular, Jez.

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

In China the festival called Tomb Sweeping Day is celebrated in April.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Well played Wolfson, but well played Warwick too; an excellent recovery in spite of the fact they had too much ground to make up and fell short. Both sides played very well in fact, Warwick converting 16/29 bonuses and Wolfson 21/33, and Mr Monkman ending the match with nine starters to his name. Good luck to him and his team in the semis, where my guess is that they'll play Emmanuel.

On Monday, though, we have the small matter of Corpus Christi vs Balliol in the second play-off match.