Tuesday, 31 January 2023

University Challenge 2023: Round Two - University College, Oxford v. Jesus College, Cambridge

The Teams

University College, Oxford

Alex Wallop

Leah Fogarty

Enzo Cunanan (Capt.)

Alice Chakraborty

Jesus College, Cambridge

Josh Kaye

Juliet Tindall

Hamish MacGregor (Capt.)

Sameer Aggarwal

An Oxford v. Cambridge match – always something to stir the spirits, I find. What does the tale of the tape tell us? Well, there wasn’t a huge amount to choose between the two in terms of first round performances. Jesus had a slightly over fifty percent bonus conversion rate, University had a slightly less than fifty percent conversion rate. Both teams won comfortably in their first round heats, with Jesus scoring over 200, and University being one full set away from 200. So the indicators, if they pointed to anything, suggested a tight game with Jesus sneaking over the line slightly ahead of University.

For the first starter, if it describes itself as the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance, and it does, then the V and A sounds a pretty good shout. Sameer Aggarwal didn’t sound very convinced when he offered it as  an early answer, but it was right. A good early UC special set on words that relate to British soap operas followed. No, ‘gloomy’, ‘miserable’ and ‘unedifying’ were surprisingly not amongst them. Jesus managed to throw away a couple of answers and failed to add to their scores. Hamish McGregor knew that cobalt is the 27th element of the periodic table. So did I, and set off for my lap of honour around the Clark sofa. When I got back, the Honresfield Library had provided Jesus with a brace of bonuses. For the next starter Josh Kaye recognised a series of definitions of the word proposition. Tails were the subject of the bonuses, and again Jesus took a pair of them. So to the picture starter. We saw a diatonic musical scale – nope, me neither – and while Hamish MacGregor certainly sounded as if he knew what he was about, neither team could identify it. So the bonuses rolled on to the next starter. I’ve never heard of abjad, but Josh Kaye knew it takes its name from the first letters of Arabic. Good shout. This earned the picture bonuses of more musical scales, but earned no points for Jesus. Sameer Aggarwal offered Jimmy Young as the person who coined the phrase Indo European. Well, he didn’t actually say it was Jimmy Young, but I’d like to think it was. French Gothic Cathedrals only brought the 1 correct answer. However, it meant that Jesus had completed a shut out for the first 10 minutes, as they led by 75 – 0. It looked a long, long way back for University.

Sameer Aggarwal piled on the agony fo University as he took the next starter, winning the buzzer race to identify CO2 as the contents of a black fire extinguisher. Historical figures who appeared in George Eliot’s Romola (George Eliot wasn’t Romola. She wasn’t even George Eliot!) gave Jesus just the one correct answer, but hey, the juggernaut rolled on. For the next starter it sounded obscure, until the words ‘Harper’s Ferry’ cued a buzzer race won by Enzo Cunanan to give the answer John Brown. Apparently, he took time off from leading Queen Victoria’s pony around to become an American abolitionist. Who knew? Three dimensional figures brought three questions I didn’t understand, but University knew the answers to 2 of them. Enzo Cunanan must have enjoyed buzzing for the previous starter since he did it again giving the correct answer of Zulu. (Cue Michael Caine impression – ‘Oii! Don’t chuck those bloody spears at me!’) Subdivisions of Scotland ending in – shire did not help the University cause at all. So to the music starter. Now, Hamish MacGregor did recognise the composer, Benjamin Britten but gave the name of one of his works instead – insult to injury being that he didn’t give the name of the right piece. Nobody knew about nose painting in Macbeth (look – don’t blame me, I don’t write the questions. Just as well too.) Didn’t understand the next question – look, it had positives, negatives and ions and the answer given by Alex Wallop was Zwitterion. Never heard of it but if you offered me one in a tall glass with a slice of lemon I’d certainly consider it. This earned the music bonuses, 3 more works with choruses of children. None of us knew any of them, although I always enjoy a name check for Englebert Humperdinck, who was named after the 1960s sideburned balladeer apparently. Hamish MacGregor applied a brake to the University revival, recognising several definitions of cleat. Kate ‘Who’ Millet brought me two bonuses and Jesus one. Alice Chakraborty recognised products from various species of palm for the next starter. Now, with the bonuses on viruses I got two while they only managed 1. Almost worthy of a lap of honour, but inertia won out. At the 20 minute mark Jesus still had a commanding lead of 105 – 50. It had been a decent fightback by University though, for they’d won this second stage 50 – 30.

Enzo Cunanan came in far too early for the next starter, which hinged upon knowing that the father and son who were both Chancellors of the Exchequer were Winston Churchill and his old man Randolph. I knew that Rads and Rems measure radiation and so did Sameer Aggarwal. Bonuses on film director Sarah Gavron brought just one correct answer. So to the second picture starter. Nobody identified Grace ‘Who’ Hopper. I was pleased to translate Vesti La Giubba as On With the Motley for Pagliacci before Hamish MacGregor buzzed in with the same. Grace Hopper was a computer pioneer and photos of three others yielded me nowt until an early 19th century lady who was surely Ada Lovelace. Was she an ancestor of Linda Lovelace? I think we should be told. Jesus took a full house and looked pretty much on the home straight. A great early buzz from Enzo Cunanan identified the word common through a reference to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. Unesco’s Great Spas of Europe – the one on the corner where I buy my paper isn’t on the list – was a set they probably should have done better with. I didn’t understand the next question but Hamish MacGregor said that the answer was 456. JP agreed so who am I to argue? Artworks featuring umbrellas yielded just another one bonus. It really didn’t matter since Jesus were 100 points ahead of University at this stage. Still, they weren’t giving up. Enzo Cunanan identified a Walter Bagehot quote about, as he said “The British Monarchy.” “The Monarchy.” replied JP sniffily, as if there is only the one that matters. Questions on the Natural World yielded one bonus. Alex Wallop knew that the boiling point of helium is 4 kelvin. Song cycles by French composers really didn’t help at all. GONNNGGGGG! That was it. Jesus won by 160 – 85.

In the end it was a comfortable victory for Jesus. That opening burst meant that University were never able to get back on terms. Neither team did brilliantly with the bonuses – Jesus achieving 40 percent, and University a modest 24 percent. Enjoyable contest, nonetheless.

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

Cobalt forms part of vitamin B12. Me, I thought that bombs were all it was good for.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Mastermind 2023 - First Round Heat 19

Hello, good evening and welcome. We’re getting there, dearly beloved. 19 out of 24 first round episodes down now. So let’s take a closer look at what happened tonight then, shall we?

So, we kicked off with James Davidson answering on the Films of Nicole Kidman. Now, if this round did one thing for me it was to confirm that I really haven’t watched that many films starring Nicole Kidman. I did manage to scramble a couple of points though. I guessed one, and dredged up the pregnancy thing about Lucille Ball from the murky bargain basement of memory. James kicked us off pretty damn well, to be perfectly obvious. He got up into double figures and that is always going to give you a fair chance.

I did think that Marcus Deal might get into double figures too after a very confident start. I’m very happy to say that my boyhood passing interest in astronomy, and pretty decent knowledge of Greek Mythology brought me three points. With five points after 2 specialist rounds I had the thrill of the chase in my heart, and the scent of blood in my nostrils. A double figure aggregate on specialist has been a bit of an elusive beast for me in this series. Marcus just started to stall a little towards the end of his round. Scoring 8 showed that he knew his stuff, but I couldn’t help feeling he might regret not having got just a couple more.

So to our third round, the Children’s books of Roald Dahl, as offered by Katie Eliot. Now, if Nicole Kidman has been in a lot of films I’ve never seen, then Roald Dahl wrote a lot of books that I’ve never read. Listen, I’m doing well if I can name the kids who accompanied Charlie to Willie Wonka’s factory on a good day. So I was very happy to garner three points from this round. Katie took a respectable 6, but looked rather uncomfortable and not at all happy with herself when she returned to her seat. Well, being four points behind at the half way stage is not a comfortable place to be, I’m afraid.

Caz Evans finished off with Take That. Right, confession time. Last weekend I did check out what tonight’s subjects were going to be, and I knew I wouldn’t have time to wiki challenge all of them. I decided that Take That was the least likely to bring me any points, so I wikied it. Which meant . . . I got five points on this round! Yeah, okay, Caz got all the ones I got and another 2 on top, but I was delighted – this gave me an aggregate of 13 for the specialist round, which is my second best after the week when I wikied all four of the subjects. Caz’s 7 was again perfectly respectable, but, I felt, just a little way short of giving her a realistic shot.

So to the GK round. As I’ve said before, it can’t be easy bringing yourself back to the chair if your specialist round hasn’t quite gone the way you might have hoped that it would. Katie made a good start, but soon was bowled a few where I think she knew the answer but just couldn’t get it past the tip of her tongue. So once again, she achieved a respectable score of 7, but although this put her temporarily in the lead it looked pretty obvious that she wasn’t necessarily going to stay there for very long.

I was impressed with the way that Caz Evans began her round. In fact the whole of her round wasn’t bad at all. She showed a pretty decent general knowledge all round, as she steadily accumulated the points to give herself a double figure score of 11. Now, 18 didn’t look like it was quite high enough to win, but at the very least it would give those yet to come something to think about and play on their minds.

Marcus’ GK round was rather similar to his specialist round. He started confidently, quickly and well, but I’m afraid he started to get a few wrong, and this seemed to lengthen the corridor of doubt he was trying to traverse. He didn’t in any way do badly, but he needed a double figure score. 10 would have been enough since he had far fewer passes than Caz did. Agonisingly though he fell 1 short, scoring 9 for a total of 17.

Could Caz do it? Well, James Davidson needed 8 and no more than 7 passes, and this didn’t look a huge ask. Yet we’ve seen in this very series that sometimes the leader at the half time interval just can’t quite make it stick in GK. No such agonies for James, though. He matched Caz’ score of 11, which was enough to give him a 3 point win. Well played to you  sir. As always, I wish you the best of luck in the semi final.

The Details

James Davidson

The Films of Nicole Kidman

10

1

11

1

21

2

Marcus Deal

Constellations of the Northern Hemisphere

8

0

9

0

17

0

Katie Eliot

The Children’s Books of Roald Dahl

6

3

7

6

13

9

Caz Evans

Take That

7

4

11

4

18

8

Saturday, 28 January 2023

A Question of Numbers

What do you think about number questions? I’ll tell you why I ask. It was Dai Norwich’s quiz on Thursday. You remember Dai? So called because his name is david and – oh, you do remember. Fair enough. Well, as I said, it was Dai’s quiz on Thursday, and he had a greater than usual number of number questions in his quiz.

Now, you probably know what I’m going to say. I’m not a great numbers man myself. Oh, don’t get me wrong, back in the days when I was serious about my quizzing I worked on such number related things as would guarantee a pay out over the long haul – binary, roman numerals etc. – stuff I had learned in the primary school but really needed to brush up on. But as a subject, I’m afraid that numbers don’t really interest me. Trust me, I was very happy, on receipt of my gentleman’s grade C in O Level Maths, to take the money and run, dropping the subject like a hot potato.

When it comes to quizzes, or course there’s a place fo number questions. For example, in last week’s quiz we were given a figure and asked what was it a measurement of. After rejecting seconds in a day, we (alright, Dan) came up with inches in a mile. Bingo. I think it’s a good question because you can work it out. What I really don’t like are the kind of questions where a) there’s no way of working it out – and – b) there’s no interest or profit in knowing the answer (apart from earning a point in the quiz. You know the sort of thing – what percentage of pet owners in the UK own a dachshund called Dennis? Who cares?

I’m being a little unfair, I know. If we take the only one from Thursday that I can remember – What percentage of people born in the UK do not speak any foreign language – you can at least apply a little working out. Basing it on the fact that, taken as a whole nation, we are lazy linguists, probably because our own language is so widespread as a second language we reckoned a little over 60 and it was given as 65. But like a lot of kinds of question, a little goes a long way.

Personally, I wouldn’t ask more than one or two number questions in the same quiz anyway. If I did ask a number questions where I didn’t think there was anything in the question giving you a chance, and there was not a way of working it out, then at least I’d give some options to choose from.

------------------------------------------

I was delighted to see the return of regular Bridge of Sighs this last week.  It might seem a relatively simple thing to come up with a daytime quiz that makes a virtue of just getting on with it, which offers a chance to even the quiz novice and yet has plenty to keep the serious quizzer in the audience occupied. For all this, I’d argue that the number of quizzes that manage to do this is relatively small. So I am pleased that the 2022 Best New Show LAMMY winner continues to provide excellent entertainment.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

University Challenge 2023: Round Two - Bristol v. Queen's Belfast

The Teams

Bristol

Sam Kehler

Jacob McLaughlin

Tess Richardson (capt)

Alejandro Ortega

Queen’s Belfast

Michael Sharry

Oliver Donnelly

Courtney Campbell (capt)

Luke Duffy

Shall we cast a glance over the form book, dearly beloved? Bristol lost a high scoring shootout with Durham in the first round, by 10 measly points. However they went on to win a high quality repechage match with Oriel. Queen’s had a fairly comfortable win over Glasgow, although their score in their win was lower than Bristol’s score in their loss. Most likely winner? The Clark 50p was on Bristol as it happened.

I knew the starter from the Romeo and Juliet reference. I wouldn’t know exactly how many times I’ve taught the play but I doubt it’s much less than 20. Alejandro Ortega shook his head as he answered philosophy, but he was right. Bonuses on poems in the Love’s Beginning section of the Nation’s Favourite Love Poems brought two correct answers – to be fair the Herrick one that they missed was pretty difficult. I went for John Donne too. I guessed El Hierro is the 2nd smallest of the Canary islands. Tess Richardson took that one. Bonuses on distances in space saw me spurn a lap of honour for knowing that the distance from the Earth to the Sun is one astronomical unit – thanks University Challenge of years gone by – but when I answered that there are about 60,000 astronomical units in a light year then I couldn’t resist. You see, last weel we were given a number in the rugby club quiz, and asked what it represented. We worked out it could be inches in a mile – and that was just over 60k. It was given as a clue in this bonus. I guessed that the last would be Headingley too – so I think I earned my lap of honour for a full house. Bristol took the first and third. Jacob McLaughlin, star buzzer in his last outing, took his first and Bristol’s 3rd starter, with the amazing Brothers Tinbergen, Nobel Prize Winners to the Gentry. Swiss linguistic theorist, Saussure, provided a terrific full house. After the bonus profligacy of recent shows it was nice to see a team grabbing them by the scruff of the neck. So to the picture starter. We saw spines of three books, all written by the same president. Profiles in Courage gave me JFK, and allowed Luke Duffy to get Queen’s off the mark. More presidential works brought Queen’s a full house. Well done! Now, had I not already taken a lap of honour I would definitely have awarded myself one for knowing that a regular arrangement of atoms in chemistry was pointing to the word lattice. Alejandro Ortega took his second starter with that one. Vanessa ‘Ding Dong’ Bell provided another two bonuses. This meant that Bristol led by 85 – 25 approaching the 10 minute mark.

Jacob McLaughlin came in far too early for the next starter, losing five on the First Lady of American Cinema. Had he waited for “The Whales of August” he might have known that this was the last film of Lillian Gish. Queen’s didn’t, and so on to the next starter. When we got as far, in the next question, to mobile phone ringtones I guessed we were looking for polyphonic. We were, and Tess Richardson supplied it. Earlier in the show I’d already supplied my full quota of Science answers for January, so I didn’t worry too much about not even understanding the questions, but they must have been hard since Bristol themselves only managed the one. IAEA launched a buzzer race which was won by Michael Sharry, who knew it was all to do with Nuclear Power. Film and TV scores by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross brought two bonuses. It was nice to see Ken Burns getting a namecheck – I will watch anything by Ken Burns. The next starter was a great example of one where you have to wait, and wait, and wait and then slam the buzzer through the table when it suddenly becomes obvious. If it mentions William Morris – then it's usually Arts and Crafts. Jacob McLaughlin took his second with this.The Danelaw provided another full house for Bristol. Nobody recognised the psychedelic folk stylings of Joanna Newsom. I took a flyer on the next starter, shouting ZINC! Immediately after JP said Calamine Lotion – Jacob McLaughlin gave the same answer to take the lead in the individual starter stakes with 3. Earlier examples of music influenced by psychedelia and folk saw Bristol draw a rare bank. I knew the Byrds and Jefferson Airplane, but Linda Perhacs is a new one on me. I’d only jist started focussing on the next starter when Jacob McLaughlin had already answered it. Schopenhauer. Gesundheit (Come on, you knew that was coming, surely.) Bonuses on cuckoo provided a full house again. Michael Sharry came in too early on the next starter on a West African language and lost five. I don’t blame him. When you’re under the cosh you have to gamble and go early to break up the opposition’s rhythm and rob them of momentum. Bristol zigged with Yoruba when they should’ve zagged with Hausa. I loved Howard Jacobson’s response to being called the English Philip Roth that he’d prefer to be called the Jewish Jane Austen. Michael Sharry this time made no mistake. The comic book writer Gail ‘Who’ Simone brought Queen’s a full house. If they could only show a bit ore speed on the buzzer. . . Well, at just after the 20th minute mark they languished behind as Bristol marched on – 155 – 65.

Oliver Donelly knew that avellana in Spanish and noisette in French are hazelnuts in English. Oooh! Cadbury’s take them etc. etc. Politicians with shared surnames brought just the one bonus. For the second picture starter the nice picture with the choo choo we saw rather shouted Pissarro to me. It didn’t shout it loud enough for either team to hear it though. Michael Sharry again tried to lift his team with an early buzz and was unlucky to come in just a little too early to hear the detail which made it clear the answer wanted was Venus and not Mars. Sam Kehler took that one, which meant every member of the Bristol team had contributed at least 1 starter. Three more paintings of rural and local rail brought us both 2 bonuses. Jacob McLaughlin took the next starter with Cloase. Answers linked by having the same sequence of vowels brought a couple of bonuses. To be honest, the contest was over and had been for some time – everything else now was just gilding. Alejandro Ortega came in too early and lost five for the next starter. Didn’t matter. I remembered for the next starter that the latin word for curve is sinus, so when it also mentioned trigonometry sine looked a pretty decent shout. It was too. Courtney Campbell zigged with cosine allowing Jacob McLaughlin to zag with sine. Archaeology bonuses didn’t add to their total, which was now in the 200s. Named hills on the Isle of Skye brought Luke Donnelly his second starter. One bonus on layman’s descriptions of legal terms brought an end to the contest. Bristol had won by 205-90.

Don’t be misled into thinking Queen’s were not a good team. They had a 66.6 percent bonus conversion rate. But they were well beaten on the buzzer. As for Bristol, they too were comfortably over 60 percent, and they have to be taken very seriously in the quarter finals. Well played!

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

The Cuckoo is supposed to arrive in Britain on April 14th – St. Tiburtius’s Day.

Monday, 23 January 2023

Mastermind 2023- First Round Heat 18

That was a strange old show, wasn’t it, dearly beloved? I fancy I might end up having a bit of contender defending to do around the metaphorical water-cooler at school tomorrow. Well, let’s see how I do.

First up was Catherine the Great. Well, actually it was Jane Worrall answering on Catherine the Great. Perusing the subjects prior to the show I did think that this was a subject where I might just nick the odd couple of points but no, not a sausage. For me there was no low hanging fruit, and apparently not for Jane either. She had one of those nights, ending with a total of 3.

Yes, alright, if you’re thinking that it was more likely that I’d get my highest score on specialist of the show on Paul Warrington’s round on Wallace and Gromit, then you’re very clever. And right – I had three of them. Mind you, I didn’t think there were many gimmes on this set either. Yes, their address is a wee bit of a pub quiz old stager, but there wasn’t a lot else. Not that it bothered Paul at all. He seems to know these wonderful shows and films inside out. Yes, he had to pass on a couple, but this set seemed pretty damn testing, and I fancied that the 11 he posted might well leave him out in front when the half time oranges were passed around.

Egon Schiele is an artist whose work I can respect, and to which I do have an emotional response. Not liking, I hasten to add, though. Maybe this is why I didn’t get any on Cristina Murray-Radulescu’s round. In the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Schiele’s work shares wall space with Klimt’s, and for me theirs are head and shoulders above other lesser lights around them, but having seen some of the works referenced in the round didn’t seem to help. Cristina did better, but she too was forced to endure one of those nights, and scored four.

Teacher alert! English teacher alert!! Yes, Stewart McNicol who was answering on Hyenas is an English teacher, a fact which should have ruled him completely out of contention, landing him with a double dose of support from the Clark sofa. Yet he managed to overcome this handicap, and by the end of the round he had posted a highly respectable 8. Yes, he was still 3 behind Paul, but that’s within range if you have the general knowledge to match your specialist. Whether this would be the case with Stewart remained to be seen.

I don’t care who you are, you have to feel sympathy for a contender for whom things didn’t go as they would have liked in the specialist and then has to return for the General Knowledge Round. It can’t be the most pleasant or comfortable of experiences, so let’s pay tribute to first Jane, and then Cristina for the calm and composed way that they faced their respective returns to the chair. Let’s also acknowledge that both of them managed scores which were respectable if unremarkable. Jane scored 8 and Cristina 7 which meant that both of them ended up with totals of 11 and 3 passes. My first thought was that we were unlikely to see a tie break between them – which was a bit of a fatuous thought considering that Paul already had 11 and 2 passes.

Before Paul retuned to the chair, though, it was Stewart’s turn. He set about accumulating points very well, and at one point I thought he looked good for the teens. A few wrong answers and a few he really didn’t know started creeping in during the last minute. Nevertheless he scored 11 – and as we know, in the current era if you manage double figures in either round you’ve done well. Well enough to win? Well . . .

Maybe I write this with the benefit of hindsight, but I thought Paul looked nervous when he came back to the chair. He needed a score of 9 since Stewart had not passed and therefore a tie break was out of the question. That was enough of an ask to put him into the corridor of doubt – and he hadn’t reached the end of it by the end of the round. Paul scored 7 to end with 18.

Stewart, I don’t know if you’ll read this ever, but in case you do, I have to tell you that it did my heart good to see a fellow English teacher winning in the chair. Beating the curse of the Clark sofa is no mean feat, and I really do wish you all the luck in the world in the semi finals.

The Details

Jane Worrall

Catherine the Great

3

1

8

2

11

3

Paul Warrington

Wallace and Gromit

11

2

7

4

18

6

Cristina Murray- Radulescu

Egon Schiele

4

0

7

3

11

3

Stewart McNicol

Hyenas

8

0

11

0

19

0

Saturday, 21 January 2023

You're better off with filth than funny.

We had a new question master last Thursday. That’s a good thing. Variety is the spice of life and the more people you’ve got willing and able to sit in the question master’s chair the better. For a first go I think he did a very good job too. Yes, I could make criticisms, but then I’ve been doing it for about 28 years and you could criticise mine too. I think the guy is called Peter. He did say, but I’m really sorry because it seems to have gone in one ear and straight out of the other. Let’s call him Peter anyway. Peter took the decision to intersperse general knowledge rounds with themed rounds. Personally I wouldn’t – it’s not my cup of tea – but it worked well enough in this quiz. One thing it did do was that it killed the quiz off as a contest after round 2 – the sports round. We outscored the other teams comfortably, and while we didn’t top score in all of the other rounds, we did in most of them. But there we are – I’d like to think we did so well because the quiz was just a tiny bit harder than normal, and also because there were no obvious howlers here the answer given was wrong – this is occasionally an issue with other setters. For example, the previous week. We’d played well, all had some good answers and won very comfortably. Yet my main feeling going home was anger that the question master had said that Henry VII was the son of the Black Prince! Jess was angry about that one as well. Chip off the old block.

To be honest the only thing I didn’t like was the question at the end of the first round. It went something like this – which team in one of the Scottish football leagues has a name which is also a telegram message? Now, the thing is, almost anything could be a telegram message, if you’re willing to pay for the letters you need. So what was the answer? Motherwell. Geddit? Joking questions are something which should only ever be done sparingly, and only when they’re actually funny. In other words, only things like- Which comedian/actor , who was popular in the 60s, shared his name with four body parts? Answer? Tony Hancock Work it out. A little bit of filth now and then works wonders.  

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

University Challenge 2023: Round Two: Newnham College, Cambridge v. Cardiff

The Teams

Newnham, Cambridge

Bethan Holloway-Strong

Hannah Bowen

Roma Ellis (Capt)

Chen Zhou

Cardiff

John Wimperis

Will Balkwill-Western

Zoe Revell (Capt)

Ella Freeman

Well, the form guide looked pretty clear didn’t it? Cardiff were highest scorers in round one, and Newnham needed a repechage. Well, first round form is notoriously unreliable as a guide. Newnham had disposed of Sheffield in the repechage and were never going to be a pushover for anyone.

The first starter gave clues towards the word axis. I didn’t see it, but Bethan Holloway-Strong buzzed in to open Newnham’s account. Art nouveau was art neauneau for the first two bonuses, but quite rightly they took the last on the great Aubrey Beardsley, a man whose art was, in my opinion, decades ahead of its time. Last time out Newnham had languished in the 30 percent bonus conversion rate range, and I wondered if this was going to be repeated tonight. John Wimperis recognised various clues to the word space for the second starter. This earned a UC special set on pairs of words differing only through the addition of a letter x at the end of the first. Granted, they weren’t the most difficult items on the menu but you can only answer the questions that you’re asked and Cardiff did just that, taking a full house. The next starter about a British city with areas losing their world heritage status saw the start of a remarkable performance by Newnham skipper Roma Ellis. It wasn’t the fact she took five starters in regular time, although that was good enough. It was the speed of her buzzing, which would rock Cardiff back on their heels on several important occasions. She kicked off with the correct answer of Liverpool. The biographer Fiona McCarthy brought them nowt – a little surprising that they didn’t know Walter ‘Bauhaus’ Gropius, but there you go. For the picture starter we saw the title For Whom The Bell Tolls translated into Spanish. Bethan Holloway-Strong took her second starter with this, and more translations of titles by anglophone writers relating in some way to the Spanish Civil War brought a single bonus. “Give us the port, Edna” An Inspector Calls! Give us the points Jeremy. I must have taught it as a set book more than 30 times. Roma Ellis took her second starter with this one. Biomedical terms beginning with par delivered nowt. So as we neared the 10 minute mark, although Newnham had taken the lion’s share of the starters, they only led by 50- 25.

This gap narrowed as Will Balkwill-Western knew that the Sonderbund war was important to the history of Switzerland. The Swiss Army were a hell of a foe to defeat when the knives were out for them. Ordoliberalism promised but little and both of us only managed the last bonus on laissez-faire. The next starter on religion rewarded those with the nerve to wait for the words Emperor of Ethiopia at which a buzzer race ensued allowing John Wimperis to give the answer Rastafarianism – Ras Tafari being Haile Selassie’s former name. The report on the State of the World’s Trees brought two bonuses, and a 10 point lead for Cardiff. Hannah Bowen knew the film Waitress for the next starter, putting the teams on level terms. The US author NK Jemisin – yet another member of the large Who? family – yielded, well, yes, just one bonus. So to the music starter and the ragtime sounds of Scott Joplin. Hannah Bowen was in quickly for that one. Three more inaugural inductees to, well, it escapes me but there you go, brought – yay – a full house! Art movement – Le Figaro – 1876. Had to be Impressionism, didn’t it? Zoe Revell thought so and she was right. Cycling terms frankly did none of us any favours although I did know Quick Release wheels, having had a bike which had some, many years ago. Whether they were ever supposed to have been quick release, well that’s another story entirely. Nobody knew epistope for the next starter. I think that Lestat was the big clue that the next starter was looking for the writer Anne Rice. Ella Freeman offered her as the answer and she was right. This brought them the dubious benefit of a set of bonuses on Gottlob Frege. Gesundheit. Not a Science thing, but I still gave myself a lap of honour for guessing that Bertrand Russell was the British thinker who corresponded with him. This was the one that Cardiff had as well. Just as Cardiff were getting some go forward Newnham skipper Roma Ellis applied the brakes, buzzing early to identify FE as the letters beginning French words for farm, iron and other things. Again though they managed just the one bonus on a gettable set. This meant that the score was still close at the 20-minute mark, with Newnham leading 105 – 85.

Both of the teams were too young to recognise Sissy Spacek in Carrie for the second picture starter. Zoe Revell chanced her arm that GVA might mean Goss Value Added, and she was right. This earned the picture bonuses. Other films mentioned in Men, Women and Chainsaws – which have never been the three personal items chosen by the castaway on Desert Island Discs as far as I recall – brought just the one bonus. Nevertheless, Cardiff were no just one bonus behind. A great buzz from Ella Freeman on Ella Ferrante took the next starter, immediately putting Cardiff ahead. 17th century poets saw Cardiff persist with Milton, and to be fair he did bring them a correct answer on the last bonus. If it’s four faces and four arms, then chances are it’s Brahma. Roma Ellis took her next starter identifying this major Hindu God. Dates of major events featuring Russian and Ottoman Empires brought 1 bonus, giving Newnham a precarious lead of five. The Newnham skipper had the bit between her teeth and extended the lead buzzing in with prime numbers for the mathematical starter that followed. 2 bonuses on Philip Glass meant that Cardiff could not take the lead in just one visit to the table. Asked for an Early 20th century British writer predicting things like tanks, you’re always going to give yourself a chance with HG Wells. Ella Freeman did. A full house on American place names brought the teams level again.

GONG!!!!!!!

So after all the shouting it came down to this. One starter. Buzz first and answer correctly, then to the victor would go the spoils. Get it wrong and taste the bitter dregs of defeat. Cometh the hour, cometh the skipper, but which one? Well, it was Roma Ellis. She’d already had five starters, but none were more important than this one. She knew that only 1 position in netball begins with neither G nor W.

Very well played both teams, as JP set an exciting and interesting contest. Congratulations to Newnham. Again, their bonus conversion rate was some way south of fifty percent, and I worry that this may cause them problems in future matches, but let’s celebrate the win for now.

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know of the Week

Biomorphic whiplash sounds a lot of fun, but it is a term sometimes used to describe the curvilinear forms used in art nouveau decoration.