St. John’s, Cambridge v. Edinburgh
Right, allow me to begin by quoting my own preview of this match which I posted last weekend: -
“let’s be blunt, and say that it would be a major upset if Edinburgh were to defeat St. John’s. Edinburgh are doughty fighters, and they have a fine quizzer in the shape of their captain Innes Carson. But I just don’t see that they have fast enough buzzing to do well enough on the starters to beat St. John’s.”
Doubtless John-Clark Levin, Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell and their captain James Devine-Stoneman of St. John’s were determined on making this prophecy come true, while John Heaton-Armstrong, Stanley Wang, Philippa Stone and skipper Innes Carson of Edinburgh were going to do their utmost to put it to the lie.
I don’t know if it was nerves but both teams rather slept on their buzzers for the first starter. – Who sailed on the Antelope – is just one of those chestnuts which would see a regular, serious quizzer slinging some buzzer. However it wasn’t until JP announced that one of the places he visited was Glubbdubbdrib that Rosie McKeown buzzed in to take the points. It was the start of another excellent evening for her. Literary works that S.T.Coleridge thought contained the three most perfect plots – let’s face it, he was maybe whacked off his moobs on laudanum when he made that observation – provided St. John’s with a full house. If you knew that Ferdinand Foch was the supreme French general by the latter stages of World War One, then you knew that his quote for the next starter had to be referring to the Treaty of Versailles. John-Clark Levin won the buzzer race on that one. Swiss Mathematicians held out scant opportunity for an early lap of honour, and indeed yielded none for me. Somewhat more surprisingly they only yielded one correct answer to St. John’s. The next starter was one of those which repaid patience, as it became obvious when we were told that the astronomical term required was also the word for what links clauses in grammar. John-Clark Levin took his second consecutive starter on that one. A wonderfully incongruous set of bonuses asked for countries which rank high amongst the world’s pineapple producing countries, based on their national football team’s performance in the 2014 World Cup. St. John’s produced their second full house of the night, even though the sneaky second of the set asked for a country that didn’t even qualify for the finals. Put yourself in Edinburgh’s position, folks. You know it ain’t your night when the opposition are scoring full houses on sets like that. An impression which must have been reinforced when Rosie McKeown took the picture starter. This involved identifying both the Korean language, and the script in which it was written, Hangul. I won’t say that I stood up and clapped the telly for that one, but I did think that this was impressive knowledge. I knew it was Korean, but somehow Hangul has managed to elude me for the last 53 years and 10 months. Other languages and scripts brought an impressive two more correct answers. Right, be honest, how many of you missed out on old Church Slavonic? For the next starter, Matt Hazell was first to join the dots, and work out that a quote from former slave Frederick Douglass about a national celebration was going to be about July 4th. Moral philosophers escaped both of us. Even so, St. John’s led by 95 – 0 just after the 10 minute mark, and you feared that JP was about to send that kiss of death, a “plenty of time to get going, Edinburgh” flying in their direction.
None of us were conversant enough with the Stefan-Boltzman Law to answer the next starter. Innes Carson broke his team’s duck, knowing that don Alfonso is a character in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. English words whose 2nd, 3rd and 4th letters are URM caused some amusement when the skipper, clutching at straws, cheekily suggested that an avaricious, ill tempered, churlish person was Burmese, rather than the correct answer of curmudgeon. Still, the one bonus they did manage was much needed. This seemed to galvanise his team a little, as John Heaton-Armstrong had a great early buzz to identify a text written in reconstructed proto Indo European.This earned a UC special set on astronomy. Basically each question gave an answer, which would be a clue to the name of a constellation – gem for Gemini, for example. Two bonuses kept their score ticking over. So to the music starter. At first I thought it was Peter Ustinov’s creation Liselotte Beethoven-Fink singing about das heilbutt, but no. It was James Devine-Stoneman who identified the work of Schoenberg. Pupils of Schoenberg saw St. John’s add another full house, which must have dampened Edinburgh’s spirits at this point. None of us knew that in the medical term NGF, the N stands for Nerve. Fair enough. Stevie Smith’s quote, “She has written an enormous book about women and it is soon clear that she doesn’t like them “ suggested a few authors, and as soon as JP mentioned the name Simone de Beauvoir it was obvious that we were dealing with The Second Sex. Innes Carson won that buzzer race. Poets name checked in “Northanger Abbey” brought a single bonus. For the next starter Rosie McKeown knew that if you’re asked a question which mentions a series of paintings by Whistler, you buzz and answer Nocturne and you’ll be right more often than you’re wrong. Lord William Bentinck brought just the one correct answer. Stanley Wang fell foul of the next starter which was one of those where you needed to wait for the moment it became obvious, and lost five of his team’s hard earned points. He’d been asked for a King of Spain married 4 times, and as soon as Mary I of England was given among the list of his wives, that allowed Rosie McKeown to give us Philip II. A UC special set on pairs of words in which the last three of the first were the first three of the second – eg. ginger and geriatric – certainly made it look like she had all three of the bonuses as well. At the 20 minute mark, despite Edinburgh’s fight back, St. John’s led by 160 – 45, and frankly, it seemed that the only question remaining to be answered was how many points the Cambridge side were going to win by.
So to the second picture starter. I recognised Gertrude Stein at the same time as the excellent Rosie McKeown buzzed in with the answer. Regular visitors to Gertrude Stein’s salon (did she do hairdressing as well, then?) gave us both a full house. I’m not familiar with the work of Daniel Dennett, but John-Clark Levin dredged him up for the next starter. Geometry and the work of Gaudi provided the subject of the bonuses. Another full house took St. John’s through the 200 mark. A fine quick buzz from Philippa Stone identified Cumbria/Cumberland as the ceremonial county taking its name from the Welsh word for Wales – Cymru. At long last I got to take a lap of honour, knowing that Auguste Picard was first to reach the stratosphere in a balloon. Edinburgh managed one of the set on him. James Devine-Stoneman came in very early to identify various flavours of arsenic, and his team took one of a gettable set of bonuses on Kings of Scotland. With the bit now between his team the St. John’s skipper took a second consecutive early starter, knowing that ceci n’est pas une pipe is what’s written at the bottom of a famous Magritte painting. Artistic works connected with the word light gave me a full house, and St. John’s 2. The John Bates Clark (no relation) medal was a new one on me, but John-Clark Levin came in early to say it is awarded for economics. By this stage Edinburgh must have felt like they were being continually beaten over the head with a blunt instrument. Bonuses on chemical compounds brought just one bonus, which incidentally gave the Cambridge team a lead of 200 points. The St. John’s skipper added to that when he came in early to say that two of the elements which were 7,8 and 9 on the Mohs scale were quartz and corundum. That was it, since the gong was bonged halfway through the first bonus.
Hard lines Edinburgh, but you were beaten by a better team. Indeed, I dare say that to me, this was St. John’s best performance, and if they reproduce this in the final, then they are going to be extremely hard to beat. In all honesty I thought that was a fantastic performance.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
On the Gaudi bonuses, JP did that annoying thing he does , correcting the contestants’ pronunciation. When James Deinve-Stoneman correctly answered with the term catenARY, JP replied “Yes. The catEnary. . . “ Get over yourself, Jez.
In his final words to both teams, he told Edinburgh “all the viewers know that you’re capable of doing much better than that.” Yes, we've seen them do better, but that’s a bit of backhanded compliment, serving as it does to say – but you didn’t do very well tonight, did you? Bit harsh that.
On the other hand he said to St. John’s “You were well balanced, your were fast, you were great.” Well, that’s all true. However, when have we ever seen Jez gush like this? Heaven alone knows how this Cambridge man will react if they won the final – which would come as no surprise after this performance. A lap of honour around the studio, perhaps? Watch this space.
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
Jazz great Dave Brubeck was a pupil of Schoenberg