Saturday, 8 September 2018

University Challenge 2019 - York v. St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford

I’ve been back to school this last week, dearly beloved, but I’m in one piece, and ready to go. So were our two teams. York’s team were Nils Boender, Danny Bate, Francesco Palazzo and skipper William Blackett. Their opposition, St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, were Agastya Pisharody, Marceline Bresson, Lizzy Fry and captain Freddy Leo. Let’s get on with it.

When I heard “What four letter component of place names . . . “ in the first starter, I guessed it would be -stan. After a little more Agastya Pisharody buzzed in with the same answer. BAFTA Television craft awards for best comedy writing provided blank looks from three of the team, but a full house for Lizzy Fry. Freddy Leo – who hails from one of my very favourite cities, Berlin, knew that a list of artists all hailed from Belgium, and crucially managed to do it just before JP supplied the key name of Rene Magritte. Agatha Christie, and specifically the works from which she took the titles of several of her books, provided but a single bonus. The Oxford skipper loomed large over his buzzer, waiting for the split second when the next starter, on Geometry (I think) became clear (to him, not to me). He slammed the buzzer and correctly answered Poincare. Hindu Festivals saw me correctly answer juggernaut for the first, but be out with the washing for the next two. Full hall for Teddy house, er, full house for Teddy Hall. So to the first picture round. We were shown two cities marked on maps, ne obviously in North West Spain, the other in Chile. First to buzz was Danny Bate, whose answer of Santiago got York off the mark. Three more pairs of places named after biblical figures provided a great UC bonus set, and brought York a timely full house. Freddy Leo recognised a list of heroes and subjects of Wagner operas for the next starter. Sport in Art brought them two bonuses. In terms of starters the Oxford team had certainly had the best of the exchanges by the ten minute mark and led by 85 – 25.

For once Freddy Leo was beaten by the buzzer for the next starter, but sadly Danny Bate had got the wrong end of the stick about the question’s requirement. He gave the answer Chisinau, but the question wanted the -au at the end of this name, and several others. So the Oxford skipper took that one. Science stuff gave them a single bonus and me nowt. Archbishop Whitgift escaped both team, neither knowing that he was one of Elizabeth I’s boys. Neither team could quite manage to spell the author of the Twilight series. She’s Stephenie Meyer – both teams thought she was Stephanie and so did I. In physics – began JP, and a short while later Agastya Pisharody correctly answered 90 degrees. Gawd knows what the stuff that came between the two meant. Opening lines from noted poems saw an interesting conflab between Marceline Bresson and Freddy Leo, as she persuaded him to go for Ezra Pound’s Cantos, and earn both a full house and a high five from the captain. Maybe it’s just me, but the music round seems to be coming somewhat earlier in the show this series.  So did Freddy Leo’s buzzer. OK, the overture from The Barber of Seville is well known, but it was still impressive work from the excellent Oxford skipper. 3 more Rossini overtures brought 2 bonuses. The York skipper, trying to buzz his team back into the contest, came in too early for the next starter, but St. Edmund’s Hall were unable to dredge up that hardy quiz perennial, mullion. Nothing daunted, William Blackett succeeded in an early buzz this time to identify Nancy Mitford as the biographer daughter of Lord Redesdale. Video game designers who’ve been awarded the BAFTA Fellowship gave them just one bonus. A really nice UC special asked for the country whose flag is made up of horizontal bands of the colours expressed in the words Melatonin, rubella and chrysanthemum. Ironically, Freddy Leo buzzed incorrectly. I say ironically, because the answer was Germany, as supplied by William Blackett. Medieval biographies brought two bonuses. Now, okay, I didn’t know that Federer means ‘trader in quill pens (Federer – featherer?) but I knew Nadal means Christmas, and you get Nadal, you’re going to pair him with Federer. Both teams dwelt on the buzzer a little until Danny Bate chanced his arm, correctly. They needed a full house really. I wonder if their hearts sank, as did mine, when JP announced a set on enzyme inhibition. Whatever the case they failed to add to their score. Agastya Pisharody was first in to give Aurangzeb as the name of one of the Mughal Emperors of the 17th century. I offered Shah Jahan, and we were both right. Plants of the parsley family brought a brace of bonuses.   You know, even now, 50 years later, every time I hear the word parsley I think of the song “I’m a very friendly lion called Parsley”. There will now be a short interval for younger readers to go and ask their grandparents to explain that popular culture reference. For that matter, waldorf salad always makes me think of Fawlty Towers (we’re out of Waldorfs). Enough nonsense. At the 20 minute mark the Oxford team led by 165 – 60, and York were some way short of a repechage score.

The second picture starter was obviously the work of Caravaggio, and Freddy Leo won the race to identify this. Three other old master paintings that failed to sell at auction saw Miss Bresson and her skipper disagreeing over all 3 paintings, but they still took two and could have had a third. Freddy Leo turned to Marceline Bresson with his hand raised for another high five, and saw that hers wasn’t so somewhat sheepishly withdrew it again.  Francesco Palazzo knew that force and lift re two forces acting on an airplane in level flight. Latin terminology meant they had finally won the bonus lottery, and took a full house. The highly impressive Oxford captain was in far too quick for York to identify Tennyson as the poet who took 17 years to complete a poem. Well, I’m a bit of a slow writer myself. Politics and Social Science -isms took St. Edmund’s Hall past the 200 barrier. Freddy Leo helped himself to another starter, knowing that Jean-Luc Godard directed Alphaville. Boroughs of New York City brought, well, yes, another 2 bonuses. Nobody knew that synechia affects the eye. The next starter contained the words ‘briefly Napoleon Bonaparte’ and ‘symphonies’ which meant that it was always going to be a buzzer race, and in this match there was only going to be one winner of it. Freddy Leo, with Beethoven. The human skeleton provided them with nowt. They didn’t really need it at this stage, mind you. I didn’t get the next starter, but Francesco Palazzo knew that the answer was Black Mirror and came in for a very swift starter. African countries that share borders with only two other countries brought York a good full house. Danny Bate threw caution to the wind and confused his Hebrides with his Shetlands for the next starter. This allowed Lizzy Fry in. That was it. The contest was gonged, with the score at 240 to 105. You know what I’m going to say. It looks like a bit of a walkover, but I genuinely feel that York were better value than their score suggests. They were beaten by a buzzer onslaught from Freddy Leo, and when you’re outbuzzed, there’s little you can do. Hard lines York, but well done for getting into triple figures. As for St. Edmund’s Hall, any congratulations on a very good performance. Special mention should be made of Freddy Leo’s 9 starters. What price a Golfinos v. Leo buzzer shootout at some stage of this year’s competition?

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Previously, when St. Edmund’s Hall have appeared, JP has told us of it’s nickname Teddy Hall, but he seems to have taken it for granted this time. Didn’t stop him calling them by this affectionate nickname as early as the second set of bonuses. You know what? When my Alma Mater Goldsmith’s College are on, I bet he never calls them Goldies. Favouritism!

It was a bit odd when the Oxford team answered ‘siblings’ to a bonus, and JP asked ‘specifically?’ The nonplussed skipper replied ‘brothers and sisters’. ‘Correct.’ Replied our hero. Well, what the hell else is siblings supposed to mean? Get a grip, Jez.being Rousseau’s nickname.

There was a little bit of showing off from JP in the sport in art bonuses. When St. Edmunds Hall correctly answered ‘Henri Rousseau’ to the first, he replied, “Yes, Douanier Rousseau” – douanier (customs officer) being Rousseau’s nickname.

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

A translation of the surname Federer, as in Roger, is 'trader in quill pens'


Jack said...

Yeah, unlucky York, a respectable team, 12/18 bonuses, who just happened to run into an even better one. Of course, it's just one game, but if Mr Leo keeps up that sort of form in later rounds, they could certainly be one to watch. 22/36 bonuses their tally.

On Monday, Edinburgh play Sidney Sussex of Cambridge, the week after, Bristol vs Queen's of Belfast.

Also, despite my age, I get yours Herbs reference; my parents had a VHS of it when I was very young. To be honest, though, I prefer its spin-off, The Adventures of Parsley, which I also had a video of.

Aethelstan said...

I'm glad you are in one piece after the first week back! I am lucky that my teaching load is not onerous.

I was impressed by Teddy Hall, and as pointed out in the twittersphere a very diverse team, and Oxford to boot! One's to watch..

Stephen Follows said...

St. Edmund Hall, not St. Edmund's Hall. Ahem.

Stephen Follows said...

Presumably the siblings thing was meant to exclude siblings of the same sex, but you're right that it did sound a tad weird.