Wednesday, 21 August 2019

University Challenge Round One - Heat Six - Edinburgh v. Birkbeck, London

Edinburgh returned as reigning champs on Monday night, this year represented by Richard Moon, Adam McLaughlan, Isaac Stephens and captain Emma Williams. The first obstacle in their way to retaining their title came in the shape of Birkbeck, London, comprising of Rob Anderson, Rosemary Barnett, Ian Kernohan and captain Nooruddean Janmohamed. Nice to see an older team like this from time to time.

Both teams rather sat on their buzzers a little bit. I should imagine a number of people at home heard “Begun in 1173 as part of a cathedral complex” and shouted Leaning Tower of Pisa as I did. The whole question was complete as Richard Moon buzzed in with the correct answer. A set of bonuses on the term tragedy followed, although I was saddened to see that the work of the Bee Gees and Steps failed to feature. Edinburgh took the first two. Various clues led Rob Anderson to the word dip. American Presidents brought two bonuses to level the scores. For the next starter the old quiz chestnut heartburn came early in the question, but both teams again sat back for a while before Adam McLaughlan came in with the correct answer. Menmonic devices were none of the ones I knew, but Edinburgh knew the first, on operations in Mathematics. The next was one of those which suddenly becomes blindingly obvious at the end. Once Holman Hunt and Tennyson had been mentioned Adam McLaughan buzzed in with The Lady of Shalot. Ida Rubinstein – yes, Ida Who? – brought Edinburgh just the one correct answer. This meant that as we approached the 10 minute mark, Edinburgh led 50 – 20.

For the picture starter we had a stave with a single note. I was out with the washing on this, but Adam McLaughlan took his triple with that one. More of the same brought Edinburgh two bonuses, and my shouting random letters at the telly brought nowt. I knew that the birthplace of Elvis starts with TUP – but neither of the teams could work it out through that or the other clues. Asked for the two word name of the largest land animal in Britain, I reckon Richard Moon probably knew the correct answer, but he buzzed in and answered ‘stag’, which was never going to get him the points. This allowed skipper Nooruddean Janmohamed to drag Birkbeck back into the contest with the correct answer of red deer. Chemical elements discovered in Sweden had me running through the Ytterby quartet and holmium, but they didn’t surface, and both of us only got Lithium. Muddy Hill and pigsty Hill are apparently possible original meanings of the name Solihull, as Isaac Stephens knew. Anglo Saxon kingdoms announced JP. Yum yum, said I. Full house for me, and also for Edinburgh on a pretty gentle set. A gentle starter about quarter days was snapped up impressively quickly by Nooruddean Janmohamed, and philosophers born in Ireland took Birkbeck to a rather healthier 50 points, albeit rather controversially. More of that later. For the music starter Adam McLaughlan quickly recognised Simon and Garfunkel. Other artists reviewed in The New Yorker by Ellen Willis only brought one bonus, but Edinburgh were progressing towards a win, so it seemed. After Edinburgh failed to identify a wading bird, Nooruddean Janmohamed chanced his arm with curlew, and was right to do so. Gardening terminology seemed to be to Birkbeck’s collective liking, and they scored a timely full house to put the scores at 105 – 75, approaching the 20 minute mark, and to keep themselves in the contest.

Once again I wasn’t impressed by either team’s buzzing for the next starter. A variety of clues pointed towards willow, and it was only a second or two after Kenneth Grahame was mentioned that Richard Moon went correctly for his buzzer. The 1956 Olympic Games bonuses were easy if you know about the Olympics, but not questions you could pull an answer from thin air for if you don’t, and Edinburgh did not trouble the scorer on this set. I decided to take my lap of honour for knowing various types of diode, as did Adam McLauchlan – know it, that is. He stayed in his seat. Poets on railways brought just the one on a gettable set. Richard Moon was first in for the second picture starter to recgonise the work of Gauguin. Other paintings representing the three stages of life brought two bonuses, and as good as sealed the deal for Edinburgh, whose score was twice that of Birkbeck’s. After again being beaten to the buzzer, a wrong answer gave Birkbeck the chance to answer Simon Sebag Montefiore for the next starter. Bonuses on 18th century Europe gave them two of an easy set, but a quizzer would probably have guessed thaler for the last one. Poor Ian Kernohan finally threw caution to the wind for the next starter, but came in too early and suffered the mortifying experience of hearing the answer he was going to give come out as part of the question. The answer to this rather convoluted thing was French horn. Nobody knew that carnations and pinks belong to the Dianthus family. Now, I guessed judging by the time of the composer’s death that the answer to the next starter would be Vaughan Williams, and Richard Moon did the same. Words added in 2018 to the US scrabble dictionary gave just time for one correct answer before the contest was gonged. Edinburgh won comfortably by 165 – 90.

“Birkbeck, you never really got a chance to get going and show us what you were made of.” Once again JP trotted this out, but he was wrong to do so. Birkbeck had more than a chance, but by the time they finally decided to start slinging some buzzer it was far too late. It’s a shame, because they answered about 2/3rds of the bonuses they were asked correctly, which is superior to Edinburgh who managed just over half. Edinburgh weren’t particularly fast on the buzzer either, but they were better than Birkbeck on it, and that’s what won them the game.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

On the elements bonuses, when there was no discussion from Birkbeck, JP kindly offered – You may confer if you’d like to, then paused for comic effect before adding – if any of you has a clue, in a tone which said, you don’t know and quit wasting my time.

This week’s controversy centred on a question to which the answer was Francis Hutcheson. Birkbeck answered Francis Hutchinson. JP made a point of correcting them, but still accepted the answer anyway. Look, I don’t want to be horrible, but if an answer is wrong, even if it’s close, then it’s wrong. Once you start accepting near misses, where do you draw the line?

For example – on one of the poetry bonuses, Edinburgh guessed that the poet was McGonagall rather than Robert Louis Stevenson. Funnily enough, he didn’t accept that one on the grounds that they were both Scottish.

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

Harry S. Truman never took off his glasses when swimming in the White House pool.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Decent enough contest, even if a bit low scoring. Birkbeck unfortunate to go out here, I suspect they'd have beaten another team, quite possibly both of last week's for a start. Edinburgh don't quite look like world beaters, but then, neither did last series' winning team at first, we shall see what becomes of them later.

No show on Monday, we resume on September 2nd with Jesus of Oxford vs Manchester, and Only Connect returns then too.