Tuesday, 9 February 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Quarter Final Elimination Match – Girton v. St. Andrews

Last week we saw a great match, in which the winner would go straight through to the semi finals. In tonight’s match no such automatic prize awaited the winners, however, instant elimination from the competition awaited the losing team. On paper it certainly looked as if St. Andrews had performed better in rounds one and two.Both teams had been well beaten , though in their first quarter final matches.

Girton took first blood by identifying various definitions of the word ‘creep’. Good answer. Three starters then went begging before Girton’s captain Cameron correctly identified the Brit awards as having originated in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year of 1977. They took a good couple of bonuses on former world heritage sites. It was Mr. Cameron again who nailed the next starter, correctly guessing that the New Zealand All Black Haka is in fact the Ka Mate Haka. They took only one bonus on a set of famous fathers and sons.

At this stage of the game only Mr. Flaherty of st. Andrews was buzzing in, and he had yet to find his range. Mr. Cameron buzzed in to win a set of bonuses on tri – points, that is, points on the map where three countries meet. They took two out of three bonuses. The next starter foxed both sides, as they were asked for three rhyming words . Miss Cawley of Girton was unlucky not to be allowed Tramp for a seductive woman – vamp was the correct answer needed. At the ten minute mark Girton had a cruching lead of 80 points, as they led by 70 to – 10. As the second third began, though, the dynamic Christopher Flaherty swung into action, and correctly identified the word diaspora to claim back the points lost on earlier buzzes. One correct bonus, and they had a positive score on the board.

Taking his lead from Mr. Flaherty, Mr. Macleod buzzed in for the next starter, to earn a set of bonuses on dyes. After the set of bonuses the lead had been cut to 45. No points for neither side realising that Coleridge’s Kubla Khan was interrupted by a visitor from Porlock. Mr. Flaherty grabbed the next starter though, correctly saying that it was possible to travel from west coast to east coast of England passing through only two counties. After the set of bonuses on the ancient world, the lead was cut to 25 points. St. Andrews were on a roll. A music bonus on classical music followed, and the versatile Mr. Flaherty correctly identified Scarlatti. Another ten points off the lead, and Girton had been shut out for 5 minutes. Unfortunately St. Andrew's failed to identify Vivaldi, which I think is the only classical music starter or bonus I have ever correctly answered.

With the gap significantly narrowed Miss Brown Kerr of Girton correctly identified the title of a well known book by Dr. Olivers Sachs as “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat”. A timely answer at a time when Girton were in danger of being swamped by a tidal wave of Flaherty starters. He wasn’t giving up without a fight, though, as he answered that the picture in the Smithsonian shows George Washington crossing the River Delaware.Both teams were having trouble with some of the sets of bonuses, and so the gap remained. Still, there was a clear star on the buzzer tonight, and this was Christopher Flaherty. Straightaway he answered that it is acetylene that is mixed with oxygen in welding. Still, no points for suggesting that the battle of Culloden was fought on English soil. I think that was a mishear of British for English.

The second third of the contest had clearly been St. Andrews’. By the 20 minute mark all was square at 85 points a piece. If bets had been taken you’d have got short odds on St. Andrews to pull away.It was that man Flaherty who put the next points on the board, identifying Azerbaijan from its neighbours. Well, we know from last week that from this point in bonuses would be crucial. On a set of people buried or commemorated at st. Pauls, only one was taken. However, if our man kept eating up the starters, then Girton were done for, and he took the next one by identifying the Milgram experiment. One bonus was taken.

Miss Brown Kerr put Girton back into the game by identifying Stevie Smith’s “Not Waving But Drowning “ That’s Stevie Smith, the poet, and not Steve Smith, England’s 1980 Grand Slam Winning scrum half. They took 2 bonuses. Then we saw the most fantastic interruption from Mr. Spencer of Girton, who identified Descartes from
“Which French pilosopher and Mathematician – “ woosh ! But that’s what you have to do to take back the initiative. Mind you, he got himself in a pickle with a bonus when he said – w – instead of double e – and expected our Jeremy to accept it ! Now, you and I might have expected JP to say something along the lines of – don’t argue sonny or I’ll smash yer face in – but no, this mild rejoinder – “I’m sorry but you’ve got to give the right answer “ was all that followed. It was still affecting Mr. Spencer at the end of the round, but a steadying hand from Miss Brown Kerr, and a quiet word focussed his mind back on the game – which at this point was anybody’s. Mr. Cameron of Girton took a key starter, identifying the deaths of Bacon and Byrd as having taken place in the 1620s. St. Andrews needed the next starter, but neither team got it. The gong sounded, and Girton took a close match by 140 to 115.

Very well played Girton. On paper you were the underdogs, but you scrapped and fought your way through. Hard lines to St. Andrews – and a special mention to Christopher Flaherty. With all due credit to Mr. Macleod’s starter, you single handedly kept your team in the match, and your performance tonight was outstanding. Yet one individual star can only get you so far, and the better all round team won.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

After Mr. Flaherty’s correct starter, he was able to trot out an old favourite –
“Well done ! You’ve stormed away to zero !” Still, for the most part he was on his best – ie - most boring – behaviour. When Mr.Spencer of Girton suggested that a painting of Christopher Wren was Dr. Johnson he restricted himself to a sharp intake of breath.

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

Dresden lost its Unesco World Heritage Site status in 2009 after the construction of a four lane bridge over the River Elbe.


Des Elmes said...

To be quite honest, I thought Girton's win was the surprise of the series so far.

St Andrews had been the more impressive of the two teams up to this point - even though they had been on something of a downward curve since their first-round match - so I fully expected them to triumph. And when Flaherty got his seventh starter to help them to a 30 point lead, they looked well on their way.

Those last few minutes, though, showed that UC can certainly have its twists and turns. It's easy to say that Spencer's remarkable interruption was what swung the match in Girton's favour, but to me it was more grit than anything else.

And it must be said, Girton are a tremendously likeable team, so even if this victory wasn't expected, one couldn't help but feel very happy for them. I certainly liked it when they hugged each other at the end.

However, one cannot help but wonder how St Andrews could be so impressive in that first-round match against a strong Somerville Oxford side and ultimately fail to really follow that up. It could have been pressure or nerves - these can set in to any team at any point - but they really did look like they could be serious contenders for the title after that opening tussle.

Londinius said...

All fair points Des. I agree that I didn't expect Girton to win , and I like your summing up that it was grit that earned them the win.

This show was just another demonstration that you really can't predict anything with certainty in this series - for which reason its been extremely compelling. One of the things I didn't highlight in my match review was the fact that a lot of starters went begging last night. Despite their performance tonight, I still think that Girton will need to play better to win the next match, whoever they play. But I don't know, and that's what has made it such a good series this year.

Best regards

Dave C.

Rach Cherryade said...

We actually watched this match being filmed in the green room but to be honest I'd forgotten what a close match it was. Both teams are lovely and of course Christopher Flaherty has been superb through all the rounds but, as you say, all of Gerton were chipping in and it's that that ultimately won the match for them. I'm really pleased that you've mentioned on a few occasions that while Gail Trimble was certainly an outstanding contestant last year she was also backed up by a great team which was a big part of their success but which so many commentators have ignored.

Always enjoy reading your reviews though trying not to look at the OC one yet as we were out on Monday and so will have to watch it back on Iplayer when we get time!

Take care,

Londinius said...

Hi Rach,

Yes, I think that Gail Trimble was SO outstanding last year that many people lost sight of just how good the rest of the team were as well.Actually, lovely Lauren Schwarzmann from the Corpus Christi team did post on LAM a couple of times last year.

Its a bit of an old chestnut to say that teams win matches, not individuals, but its still true for all that.

Look after yourself,


(PS - no giveaways about OC - but its a good'un and you'll enjoy it ! )

Christopher said...

Hi David,

I'm Chris from the Girton team; I was put onto your blog some time ago by a friend and have been enjoying it ever since. It's not often you come across any piece of comment or opinion that is as fair and unbiased as your writing. I must also thank you for making me aware of Only Connect; worth it for the one connection I get a week!

I haven't posted before for fear of drawing your infamous support, but the team have all seen this week's article and we wanted to say thanks both to you and Des Elmes for the kind words. None of us are serious quizzers; we went into every show just looking to have fun and not embarrass ourselves, and I only hope it comes across on screen. We were so surprised to win one match, never mind the three so far!

I'd also like to pay tribute to Chris Flaherty. As mentioned by everyone who has seen him, his buzzing skills are incredible. But more importantly he is a really nice guy (he's Scottish after all)and he even stuck around to cheer us on the next day. A top bloke.

Thanks again,


Londinius said...

Hi Chris , and congratulations to you and your team on a splendidly battling performance. Everyone in your team offered something good on Monday's show, and I really enjoyed it.

I'm very glad that I've put you onto Only Connect ! Its a great show. Now there's an idea - three of you could apply for the next series.

You say that you're not serious quizzers, but as University Challenge at-least-quarter-finalists you have achieved a certain level of kudos already.

Its nice to see you paying a little tribute to Chris Flaherty. It doesn't surprise me that he's a nice guy. I think all of the teams have come across well this series in terms of personality. As for being Scottish, well as I have said before,Grandad Clark was from Dundee, so I have a great affection for Scotland. In the past they have been underrepresented in quiz events. Your country needs good people like yourselves !

You do realise that in my review of your next performance you will now be "Regular LAM reader Chris Cameron" . As regards not wishing to incur what you so rightly describe as my infamous support, well, I'm afraid you may have done just that now, unless you play Manchester, that is. I may be a sucker for flattery, but I'm not fickle !

Good luck in however many matches you have left, and thanks very much for dropping by and leaving your very kind comments.

Unknown said...

Hello all - I'm Chris, this time from the St Andrews team. Again, I'm a first-time poster who's been reading since my first round, and I'd like to say thanks very much for all the kind comments. As Girton's Chris noted, it's very nice to read a thoughtful and fair match analysis, even of one we lost!

Thanks again to Chris and also Rachael, who, along with the rest of their teams were extremely nice, and made the whole experience a fantastic one. Good (if retrospective) luck to them in their remaining matches!

Ps. Well guessed with the Culloden British/English confusion - I was a bit embarrassed at my indignant facial expressions afterward!

Londinius said...

Hello Chris

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to pop by. Very hard lines, but you played a fine part in a terrific match, and reaching the quarters of University Challenge is no mean feat.

I hope that you will continue with your quizzing career, Chris. As I said to the other Chris, Scotland needs you !

Best regards,