University College, Oxford
Enzo Cunanan (Capt.)
Jesus College, Cambridge
Hamish MacGregor (Capt.)
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.