Merton, Oxford v. King’s College, London
Well, here it is, dearly beloved, the last heat of the first round. Once this is over, we’ll have definitely seen the winning team. Not necessarily in this heat, but then again, possibly.
Merton were represented by Edward Thomas, Alexander Peplow, Akira Wiberg and their captain Leonie Woodland. King’s in their turn drew on the services of Marta Varela, Richard Senior, Lochlan Pryer and their skipper Caroline Spearing.
Now, the fact that we were dealing with a revolution of 1959 should possibly have alerted both teams a little bit earlier to the fact that the first starter was looking for Fidel Castro. Edward Thomas was first in for that one. This brought Merton a set on World Religions. These weren’t all gimmes by any standard, and the way that Merton dispatched them to the boundary was a serious statement of intent. Look out King’s. Akira Wiberg came in quickly when asked to identify the order in which the Genus Homo is placed. The Fifa World Cup proved somewhat trickier than world religions, and we both only took the one, although not the same one. Alexander Peplow gave us Alexander Hamilton as the first US Secretary of the Treasury. When JP announced bonuses on diseases named after the location they were first identified, I immediately shouted that Lassa fever would be one. Don’t know why, since the room was empty. Neither of us had heard of the Rift Valley Fever, but we both took the other two. The picture starter showed us the first few lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. Marta Varela opened King’s account knowing the two missing words. More mistreated sonnets provided ten more points. Alexander Peplow won the buzzer race to tell us that the Famous Five reappeared in a new set of books in 2016. Events of 1907 provided Merton with 2 more correct answers, and meant that they led by 80 – 20 at the 10 minute mark.
Captain Leonie Woodland knew the Pigeonhole Principle for the next starter. The phrase – by the skin of our teeth – provided them with a further two correct answers. Akira Wiberg knew that the southernmost point of the Asian continent is on the Malay peninsula. Serial publications of the 19th century provided a full house which took Merton into treble figures. Various scientific things all linked or symbolised by the letter C gave Merton’s skipper another starter – and you have to say, poor old King’s looked to have been flattened by the Merton juggernaut by this stage of the proceedings. Merton only managed the one correct answer on comets, but I set off upon my lap of honour around the living room for taking a full house. For the music starter we were treated to a good slice of Edwin Starr’s War . And I can’t resist saying that both teams scored absolutely nothing (say it again, y’all). Caroline Spearing earned the music bonuses for her team by knowing that Blanche’s Chair was an early draft title for A Streetcar Named Desire. (or as my Nan once charmingly called it, A Streetcar named Desiree). Three other songs banned from BBC radio during the Gulf War provided a full house, which narrowed the gap – although this still stood at more than 90 points. Marta Varela knew that in Futsal each team can have a maximum of 5 players on the field at any one time. British physicist Hertha Ayrton promised me little since I’ve never heard of her, and yet it provided both me and King’s with a full house. Akira Wiberg shut down King’s mini revival when he knew that Cowper’s lines “I am monarch of all I survey” refer to Alexander Selkirk. The Cold War saw Merton pick up two bonuses, as was their wont, but miss out on the term Ostpolitik. Leonie Woodland either knew or guessed that the two longest rivers in European Russia are the Volga and the Don. ISO codes for languages almost inevitably saw Merton give two correct answers. Caroline Spearing held her hands to her face when she realised that, when asked for a Biblically named character from Moby Dick she’d zigged with Ahab when she should have zagged with Ishmael. Alexander Peplow took that one. The cavalier poets provided, well, no, not 2 answers, only the one. It didn’t matter. As a contest the game was over, as Merton led by 195 to 65 at the 20 minute mark, and frankly looked pretty decent value for their score at that.
There was no mercy for King’s either as Akira Wiberg was very quickly in to identify a photograph of Mata Hai for the second picture starter. Three more figures known for their involvement in spycraft provided just the one correct answer. Leoni Woodland knew that 2 pi radians is 360 degrees. Fair enough. Playing the violin brought another 10 points. Edward Thomas knew that Gower is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is, too. Income tax brought a full house. Alexander Peplow knew Judith Weir was once appointed Master of the King’s Music, as the agony continued for King’s. Stately Homes added 10 more points to their burgeoning total. Fair play to Marta Varela for finding an early buzz at this stage of the game to give the correct answer of Magellanic clouds to the next starter. Taglines of British films were an appropriately gettable set, and the full house King’s achieved pushed the towards respectability. They achieved triple figure respectability with the next starter, knowing that Jacob and Bob were two famous Marleys. Little bit of trivia – in the Muppet’s Christmas Carol – Mrs. Londinius’ favourite film – Marley’s Ghosts are played by Stadler and Waldorf, and their names are Jacob and Robert Marley. Bonuses on tea provided another two correct answers. Leonie Woodland knew that Fermions have half integer spin. No, me neither. A UC special set of titles differing only by the final word – eg Life of Pi and Life of Brian sounded good, but we didn’t have time for them, as the gong stopped the contest with the score at 285 – 110 in Merton’s favour.
Hard lines, King’s. We really never got a chance to see how good you were since you were comprehensively outbuzzed, although I suspect your bonus conversion rate was pretty decent. Well played Merton. Strong contenders in the second round, I fancy.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
A rather good example of precision biting of the hands that feed him saw JP moan “What a ridiculous organisation it is!” after it was revealed that Roberta Flacks Killing Me Softly was kept off the national radios stations during the Gulf War. Rather sensitive and sensible, I would have said.
JP also demonstrated an interesting way of pronouncing Woburn Abbey. I’ve always heard it pronounced WOE-burn, but Jez called it WOO-burn. Hmm.
Interesting Fact that I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
“The Skin of My Teeth” is a phrase first coined in the Book of Job