Saturday, 2 February 2019

Universty Challenge 2019 - Quarter final match 1 - Glasgow v. Durham

The quarter finals at last. I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t sat down and done any analysis of which teams are most likely to contest the final, but the real contenders will emerge during the next few weeks.

So on Monday we saw Glasgow take on Durham. For Glasgow, conquerors of my own Goldsmiths team in round 2, we had Lewis Barn, Freya Whiteford, Cam Herbert and captain James Hampson. Against Goldies they had got off to a great start, and looked dead certs for the win by the 20 minute mark, but were given a scare as they took their foot off the gas in the last 7 minutes or so. Such generosity in this match would surely be punished. Their opposition, Durham, were Sian Round, Cameron Yule, Ben Murray and skipper Matthew Toynbee. They scored a massive 360 in the first round, and posted a comfortable win over Keble in the second.

Glasgow once again got off to a blitz start with skipper James Hampson recognising clues to Boris Pasternak. Recent non-fiction works brought them two correct answers. I’m not going to pretend that I had a clue about baroreceptors – I though they were something in your potting shed – but James Hampson made it 2 out of 2 starters with them. Naomi Mitchison did little for me, and in fact both of us only managed the one bonus. I did know Tristram Shandy for the next starter, and James Hampson made it a triple with the same. Chemical elements classified as carcinogenic to humans were like manna from Heaven to me – since all I actually do know about Science really is the periodic table. A full house sent me on my way to a lap of honour, while Glasgow managed 2. An early picture starter in this show showed us the titles of films in the original language in which they were shot. For once Glasgow misfired, allowing Matthew Toynbee to identify the work of Ingmar Bergman. I liked him in Casablanca. More of the same brought Durham a timely full house. Cam Herbert came in too early for the next starter, losing 5 and allowing Sian Round of Durham to identify various clues to the word window. Bonuses on Jean Paul Sartre took them to just 5 points behind Glasgow, who led 50 – 45 as we approached the 10 minute mark.

Years ago, in this very blog, I admitted that I didn’t know what a Golgi apparatus was. I went away and learned it, so I took my second lap of honour worthy starter when this reared its homely head in the next starter. Matthew Toynbee took the lead for his team with this one. A series of animals with crests brought us both a full house. It was proving a good night for the captains, as Matthew Toynbee took his second consecutive starter with the mother of Alexander the Great, Olympias. Indo Saracenic Architecture sounded tricky and yielded just the one bonus. I didn’t know the world Exposition took place in Astana in 2017, but Cameron Yule did. A rather gentle UC special set on words, which become other words with an additional letter quite rightly yielded a full house. So to the music starter. We heard a snatch of an opera, and Cam Herbert quite rightly identified it as the work of Joe Green – or Giuseppi Verdi if you want to be pedantic. Other recordings of Marion Anderson yielded a further, well, nothing to be perfectly honest. I didn’t really understand the next question but James Hampson knew that the answer was negative feedback. ‘Spect we’ve all had our fair share of that in our time. Sherlock Holmes short stories brought them no joy. I don’t blame Ben Murray for jumping in early with Zoroastrianism for the next starter, since I did exactly the same, but Glasgow couldn’t capitalise. Manichaeism was what the question wanted. Fair enough. Glasgow’s redoubtable skipper knew George Orwell wrote “Why I Write” to earn bonuses on plant derived substances. A single correct answer meant that Durham led by 105 to 85 at just approaching the 20 minute mark.

A rather fiendish mental maths question about a Fibonacci sequence saw Matthew Toynbee win the buzzer race to give the correct answer of 34. Historical sources saw Durham add a further 5 points to their score. The second picture round saw James Hamspon earn a Paxman well done for identifying a portrait of Voltaire, the inventor of the battery. Bonuses on other famous folk known by one name followed. One of the bonuses showed us a portrait of well known Pat Gibson impersonator, Stendahl. Glasgow managed just one for Moliere. Ben Murray recognised two definitions of the word jerk for the next starter. Marine invertebrates provided a very timely full house. Lewis Barn won the buzzer race to identify Icarus for the next starter. Bonuses on Dutch colonial history did Glasgow no favours. Nobody knew that President Polk presided over the annexation of Texas in 1845. Nobody knew pachynema – gesundheit. Ben Murray won the buzzer race for the next starter to identify Bolivia. French economists promised and delivered nowt to me, but the 5 points they gave to Durham meant that Glasgow needed two full houses just to draw level. Looked unlikely. Nobody knew that a square and an equilateral triangle form and octahedron. Me neither. Matthew Toynbee sealed his team’s win, knowing about various works of literature connected with the word arrow. Expressions containing a repeated name were announced, but gonged before any were answered. This sealed a win for Durham by 170 to 110.

A good contest, that, and for once, not won on the buzzer, where both teams were much of a muchness. Glasgow were just far too wasteful of their bonuses. They will fight at least one other day though.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Very little worthy of note this week. I did think he might kick off when Glasgow offered clock as a body part for the first Sherlock Holmes bonus, but he merely repeated what they’d said rather scornfully, and favoured them with a look that was so old fashioned it was practically mummified.

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

There was plenty that I didn’t know this week, but I can’t recall going – ooh, that’s really interesting – to any of them. Apologies.


Jack said...

Indeed, the teams were indeed pretty much level on the buzzers; it was Durham's far better bonus rate of 17/27, to Glasgow's 7/24 that won the game. That'll need to improve next time around; Durham meanwhile remain a team to keep an eye on.

On Monday, Darwin play Bristol, the week after, Edinburgh vs Manchester; advanced warning for fellow Scottish viewers, that second match will be a day later than elsewhere as a Scottish Cup match is on.

Aethelstan said...

Glasgow seem to have a somewhat low conversion rate - maybe they prioritised buzzer performance in their training? Anyway I think they may struggle going forwards.

Dave thanks for your thoughts on last nights Mastermind in your previous post. That was a, er, interesting show...

Londinius said...

Hi Both,
Thanks again Jack. Yes, I thought that the Glasgow conversion rate was low - although I didn't realise it was quite that low.

Aethelstan, it's hard, isn't it? You can't blame anyone for applying to go on the show, especially if it's a show they enjoy, and they've always had a wish to give it a go, etc. etc. However . . . as I think I said, I just really don't understand how you would apply, go through the audition process, get accepted, and then just not prepare properly. In my opinion, based on the evidence of what we saw, at least one, probably two and maybe even three of last night's contenders just had not prepared their specialists well enough. As a result of which the show was over as a contest by half time. All of this was compounded by the fact that two of the contenders were, calling a spade a spade, very weak on General knowledge.

It serves to highlight an issue faced by the production team. I know several people who applied for this particular series who didn't get on the show who would have done SO MUCH better than that. Yet you can understand, although not necessarily condone it, when a production team decides that they want as many 'newbies' as possible, and so reject recidivists in their favour. It seems to be rather arbitrarily applied, mind you, thinking, for example, of Hamish Cameron's latest appearance in this series. But I honestly feel that this drive to put forward new faces must, must, must be balanced by the need to 'save' some contenders from themselves. As I said a few weeks ago, we can't know how any of these contenders performed in their auditions. But if there was any concern over them reaching a basic level of performance based on those auditions, then it was cruel to put them in a position where they had a good chance of ending up with egg on their face. I can't know how desperate Conor was to get on the show, for example. But I have a pretty good idea of some of the comments he'll be getting from kids and other people about his performance, and if there was any inkling that there was a better than average chance of this happening, then I think the production team was wrong to put him in that position.

I've never spoken to the production team in detail about this, but in my own Mastermind days I always thought that the particular blend of contenders on a given show had a lot more to do with the combination of subjects they were offering than their relative strength or weakness as contenders. The result of it being that you can end up with a show like this one. Thankfully it's still rather the exception than the rule.

Stephen Follows said...

If you want to be really pedantic, it's Giusepp_e_ Verdi. So there.

Aethelstan said...

Thanks for your thoughts Dave, I was very, very surprised by that episode Friday. I suppose the production team need a fair mix of old and new brigade, geographical spread and so on. I seem to remember there was some discussion around ULIP and University Challenge, and getting 'novelty' teams through, something similar? Interesting to see where this years challenge and mastermind bring us...!