Tuesday, 23 February 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Quarter Final Elimination Match – Edinburgh v. Jesus College Oxford

Another nailbiting elimination match this week. Two weeks ago St. Andrews went down and out, and tonight either Edinburgh, or regular LAM reader and contributor Jim Waterson’s Jesus College team would have to join them. Sartorially it was very nice to see Mr. King of Edinburgh wearing a DJ and bow tie tonight. I like a man who pays respect to the gravitas of the occasion.

First blood went to Edinburgh, identifying types of cross, as did the second starter, identifying cloves. Mr. Docherty of Jesus got their first points by correctly identifying the chemical element bromine. A full set of bonuses put them only 5 points behind Edinburgh. Not for long though, as Edinburgh let Jesus guess that the Treaty of Windsor was signed in the 15th century, before correctly answering that it was signed in the 14th.

The picture starter gave Mr. Speller an easy tap in, to identify Hitler’s invasion of Russia as Operation Barbarossa.The bonuses on other invasions of world war II were a little harder, although they did get Overlord. Tit for tat, Edinburgh struck back with the very next starter. This time they got two of the bonuses too, a good thing, considering that both teams had been rather profligate with bonuses up to this point. “Pack – peck – pick – pock and puck “ recited captain Hugh Brechin of Edinburgh in response to a set of clues to take the next starter. Bloomin’ good answer, sir !2 more bonuses meant that Edinburgh were just starting to pull away by the 10 minute mark.

They started the second third as they finished the first, with a confident early buzz from Mr. King, identifying the use of platinum in catalytic converters. Only one bonus was taken, but at the time it didn’t matter, as Captain Brechin buzzed in again for the next starter, identifying an acronym for Australian State Capitals. At this point Jesus had been buzzed out of the game for a few minutes, and its always a test of a team’s nerve how they respond to this. Captain Hadley buzzed in to put Jesus back on the rails with the next starter, identifying, among other things, the name of the first Brazilian captain to lift the football World Cup. However this only pulled them up to 50 points, and at the halfway stage Edinburgh had a distinctly useful looking 60 point lead.

For the music starter on 60s TV themes, Mr. King looked a bit like the Saint, but he didn’t get any points for saying that the theme to the aforementioned show actually belonged to the Prisoner. Neither team got it, nor a set of quotations from The Tempest. Still , Mr. Speller impressed with his buzz of an answer of “anarcho syndicalism “. Try saying that when you’ve had a couple of glasses of dutch courage in the green room . They did pretty well on the theme bonuses too.

As we moved into the second half of the show the axis of opportunity shifted, as Jesus started finding the range for the starters. They pulled back the deficit to 20 points, before Mr. Kimmit correctly identified Henry Bessemer et al as pioneers of the Iron and Steel industry ( I’m in the iron and steel business lady – the wife does the ironing and I do the – sorry – a slight attack of the Music Halls there. ) At 20 minutes, moving into the last third, Edinburgh led by a slender 35 points. They took the first starter on self portraits, identifying Frida Kahlo. Then Mr. King identified a group of words from the last line of Paradise Lost. At this stage you could have named your own odds if you wanted to back Jesus, as the gap extended to 75 points. Mr. Speller made a timely interruption to identify the third woman member of the US Supreme Court. This was followed by a set on deposed kings.Not all were taken, but the gap narrowed to 45 points with 5 minutes to go.Hugh Brechin took the next starter, and Edinburgh pulled away again. Cue Mr. Speller of Jesus to take the next starter, identifying a list of authors as all being linked by the initials JM. What they did extremely well was to answer the bonuses quickly. They took the next starter, a gentle dolly on elements of the periodic table, and quickly whipped through the bonuses to get another two. The force was with Jesus for the moment as Mr. Docherty correctly predicted the next country bordering Brazil in a list given would be Peru. Good shout, and with the gap down to 30, even though time was running short, anything looked possible. 3 correct bonuses on Italian Prime Ministers helped. Mr. Speller identified the time signal of a waltz as 3 – 4, and now the gap was down to 5 points, with bonuses to come.They needed two bonuses to take the lead, and amazingly took one just on the gong !

What a fight back. Yet it might all come to nothing, depending on the tie break. The deciding question was , if I heard it correctly,
What is the determinant of a two by two matrix whose entries, reading row by row, are two, three, four, and five ?
My Mathematically inclined friends assure me that this was easy. I take their word for it. Whatever the case Mr. Matheson of Edinburgh buzzed in with the correct answer – negative 2.There's been a bit of discussion about this, but I've listened a few times, and it seems fairly clear to me that negative 2 is what he said. So very well done Edinburgh, and good luck in your next match. As for Jesus, very hard lines, but you earn great credit for a splendid fightback.

Jeremy Paxman Watch
I got the impression JP was very much into this match tonight. That’s nice for him, but it didn’t provide us with too many Paxman moments. Oh well, at least there was this.
When asked about an order of reformed Cistercians, with particularly strict rules, when offered Franciscans by Edinburgh, JP offered , “No, they’re TRAPPISTS – don’t you read Divinity ? “Mr. Kimmit, who provided the answer, actually is reading Divinity.
On the TV themes, he suggested that Jesus might not actually want these bonuses.

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

The Treaty which formalized England’s oldest alliance, with Portugal, was called the Treaty of Windsor.


Unknown said...

It's Andrew Matheson from the Edinburgh Team. I DID say negative 2, but began saying minus 2 before hand so it came out a bit mumbled. Credit to the Jesus Team for their comeback, in the end it was just bad luck that they didnt have anyone with a maths or physics background for the tiebraker.

Londinius said...

Hi Andrew, and thanks for commenting. Yes, I'll be honest, I don't know if you've read or heard anything anywhere about the answer, but it seemed clear enough to me as I watched it. Well done you for keeping your nerve at the end there. It took a brave person to buzz in for a tie break, I can tell you, even if you knew the answer - which you did. I look forward to your next match, and wish you all good luck.

Oldish emmanuelan said...

Fantastic match but have to ask how gutted Jesus were that they didn't take Mr Waterson's 'correct' answer to the penultimate bonus! '1760s!'

Unknown said...

Can't honestly say I've seen anything about my answer, any tips on where to look? I'm quite intrigued now. To be honest, everything I've read so far has been about max's (king) dinner jacket.

tessera said...

Hello, Tom Speller from Jesus Oxford. Have really enjoyed the blog you've done ever since the start of the series back in July, a very accurate (and enjoyable) description of proceedings! And happy you've been supportive of all the teams (including mine) on the series... trust me, I've seen my fair share of personal insults online (which thankfully having been in the USA since October I've mostly not noticed until now)!

And Andrew... ignore what people say online. I mean, who really cares what you were wearing? I mean, unless it fired you guys up (in which case, great choice of attire), I suspect the attire had no difference how you actually performed ;)

Anyway... completely agree with Andrew, I was absolutely sure he said negative two or something equivalent. No complaints about that, despite speculation elsewhere. And it was just bad luck (for Jesus) with that tiebreak: tbh, I was probably the best qualified to answer that having done matrices at A-level Maths... but Andrew beat me (and Mr Doherty) to it. In the end, a great match to be involved in, which I think people genuinely enjoyed. Jesus did themselves proud, definitely... but Edinburgh- tiebreak or no tiebreak- deserved to win that.

Anyway... roll on latter stages! Quite a good series so far...

tessera said...

And as for that Treaty of Paris question- we panicked, pure and simple. We just wanted to level the scores first and foremost, and then worry about edging it if we got the opportunity to do so.

Tbh, there were lots of little things we got wrong (from my team's view), and in truth we honestly didn't think it'd get that close. But that Q will haunt us for a long time; it was an open goal we missed and in the end it proved costly. Then again, had we got another starter or won the tiebreak it wouldn't have mattered. I certainly wouldn't blame our loss on that Q... tbh, afterwards our regret- if anything- was that we left our comeback too late.

Des Elmes said...

We wait five years for a tie, then three come along in the same series... glancing at the records on Sean Blanchflower's page, this has never happened before in the Paxman Era.

In all fairness, this was probably the most dramatic of the three ties so far. One would have thought that Edinburgh surely had it in the bag when they led by 75 with only a few minutes left - only for Jesus to demonstrate a brilliant never-say-die attitude and remarkable grit, rather like they did against Warwick. It actually looked like they were going to pinch it, only for the gong to go.

Then it felt like ages between Paxo finishing the breaking starter and Andrew buzzing in with the correct answer. And I too don't see any controversy in the way he answered it - why some people do is beyond me TBH...

But it is a huge shame that Jesus's astounding fightback ultimately came to nothing, and that they're now eliminated. Indeed, neither side deserved to lose this.

So very hard luck Tom, but well done and fair play to you Andrew.

Rach Cherryade said...

It was an amazing match, both sides were brilliant and neither deserved to go out of the contest on a tie-break like that but I suppose only one could win! I knew what the outcome was but even I thought that Jesus might win it (even though I knew they hadn't!) having been in the tie-break situation I know how much pressure there is not to mess up so think it took a lot of guts to buzz in and I too didn't see any controversy in the answer. It's our last qf match against Edinburgh next week so we'll have to see what happens there!Congratulations again to both teams and comiserations to Jesus who were an excellent team and put up a great fight! Still sad we never got the chance to play you!


Londinius said...

Hi Andrew, Des, Tom, Oldish Emmanuelan and Rach.

Andrew - what I was referring to was a debate on the IQAGB forum website. You'll find it here

Tom, how nice of you to comment. I've enjoyed your performances very much this series. You certainly played a full part in your team's excellent fighback on Monday, very hard lines it didn't quite work.Thanks for your kind comments. I don't really understand people who choose to make derogatory comments ont he net about how people perofmr in UC. I think it says a lot more about the people who make the comments rather than the intended recipients.

Oldish - you're probably right, but any match hinges on small moments, and you give the answers you give for the right reasons at the time. Nobody needs to beat themselves up over this. Both teams gave of their best - you can't ask for more.

Des, thoughtful comments as always. I think you're right to say that neither team deserved to lose on Monday night's showing. It really does highlight what we've been saying for a long time - that this is a close series with some fine, evenly matched teams.

Rach, I'm not sure I can take it if you, Jakob and the team put me through the emotional wringer again like you did against St. John's !Although if its anything like as good as your last match and Edinburgh's last match, then the viewers are in for a real treat.

I hope that you guys won't hold it too much against me for burdening you with the curse of the Clark sofa !In all seriousness, I wish both teams the very best of luck.



Jim W said...

Probably time for a mea culpa - it was me that 'corrected' the 1700s. Although given I've got a load of texts saying "WAH THEY SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO YOU" so I guess the edit made it look different.

The producers were just waiting for us to draw level so they could press the gong. I reckon they'd have done it immediately if we'd got '1760s'. Though having a maths question was a load of bollocks.

We'd just had our confidence shredded after filming our game vs Emmanuel the day beforehand. We filmed the Emma game having watched them looking pretty useless on BBC2 a few days beforehand - being beaten by Regent's Park, Oxford. I didn't even realise there was a Regent's Park college here. So it was a bit of a surprise to discover that Mr. Guttenplan had woken up in the lag between what had been broadcast and the episodes that were being filmed. Really knocked us for this one.

We stood no chance against the mind games of Hugh Brechin. Steely-eyed canny bloke who is destined to weird people out on his rise to the top of whatever he does. Amazing. And that bloody John Knox monkey...

And it was a brilliantly cruel set of a circumstances that caused Andrew/Hugh to abandon their own formal wear to leave poor Max King looking like he'd wandered off the set of Brideshead Revisited.

Londinius said...

Jim, your comment regarding the gong is very believable. Thanks for letting us know that the rounds are filmed so closely together. I suspected it, but didn't know for certain.

I DID wonder why just Mr. King ended up in formal attire. Are you able to tell us about this cruel set of circumstances, or will you leave it up to our imaginations ?

Hard lines, anyway. Losing on a tie break is cruel, but you went down fighting.

best regards


Oldish emmanuelan said...

Congratulations again to you all for the best final minutes of a game this series so far. I just reviewed the final questions again and can now see that it was indeed Tom Speller that offered '1760s' first. Never mind Jim, you're probably right about the contrived gong. Very good of you to own up to it though.

By the way, Andrew, I couldn't see any reason for debate on the Tie breaker. It was clear first time to me, though I had the benefit of having solved it a moment before you buzzed!

Since, I have the floor here, I have another question for you all. I watched the original UC many years ago before many of you were born and by the time I got to University in mid 80s was utterly despondent that I'd be lucky to get a couple of answers right in a game. Anyway, the rumour back then was that contestants were actually given a reading list from which they could expect they'd be asked questions. This I gladly accepted to account for my own poor performance.

With the benefit of 20+ years extra experience, I seem to be doing much better now at this game, but I'm still totally impressed and a little jealous at the breadth and depth of knowledge exhibited by you young'uns.

So can you please confirm that the reading list is in place?

Or am I just woefully below par, though ironically that tie-breaker would have been one of the few questions I could've answered, being old enough to have done matrices as a 11 year old at school.

tessera said...

Thanks for the comments... glad we made a good impression! I think the producers certainly liked us, that was for sure :)

Pretty much second what Jim said... we played day after we got a spanking from Emma. And yes, I'll do a mea culpa and admit I underestimated how good Emma would be: I'd only seen them against Regents and they looked very beatable. Indeed, if I remember rightly a certain contentious Q on Butskellism might well have made the difference between surviving and getting knocked out! However, they completely deserve their subsequent success; with hindsight they were more on the ball than we were. And Alex Guttenplan was and is extremely good... I've played against some good quizzers on TV (Battle of the Brains) and in Oxford (including a certain GT from Corpus)- and Alex I'd say is well up there with the best I've played against. Very wide knowledge and as quick as Gail on the buzzer.

Regards Edinburgh- I do remember it came down to what clothes could be worn on TV, and tweed apparently plays havoc with TV screens in terms of filming (I had that problem myself with nearly all my shirts I wanted to wear- hence the bold colors)! So Max looked the odd one out, as black tie actually works quite well on the box. Why they did it... I'll leave that to Andrew, if he cares to comment ;)

And Old Emanuelian, I can say that I didn't rely on any reading list to prepare... wow, was there really one in the past? Fascinating! That said, I don't think having a reading list- if one exists- would make much difference for most people. Having done UC, I would definitely say how well people (and therefore teams) do ultimately- as with many things- comes down to nature and nurture. To give an example, my parents are both teachers, we always had lots of books at home, I have siblings and friends who have tended to be fiercely competitive, I've always liked finding out things, and I've done quite a bit of foreign travel. I'm sure if you talk to Jim or Andrew or Rachael or others, I suspect they'll probably have similar backgrounds to me. Anyway, I know nothing of any reading list.

Unknown said...

Cheers for that link, I didn't realise my answer was so contentious. I suppose there's a lot of people out there who have never spoken to someone without a home counties accent! I don't agree with people claiming it was too specialist because I think all UC questions are to some extent specialist.

I think with the 1700s/1760s answer there's no point dwelling on it. I agree with Jim, the producers decided that it was going to be a tiebreak the moment jesus started coming back. If you guys had got the 1700/1760s question they would have hit the gong straight away.

Me and Max live together, and had agreed before hand that we were going to wear some pimping outfits for the quarters. We went to Primark and got his outfit for £30 (his grandad had given him money to smarten up) on the morning of filming. They wouldn't let me wear the tweed jacket I'd recently inherited because the man in wardrobe said "it flared so much that it looked like fireworks on screen" so I just wore it onto the set and then hung it on my chair, like what Federer does with his white blazer. The reasoning was partly to get respect from Paxo, partly to freak out the opposition. We broadly achieved both our goals.

Londinius said...

Ah, I was wondering why JP was so well behaved on Monday. It was obviously because he'd been cowed into submission by the tweed jacket.

Off the point completely, when I made my first appearence on TV in Come And Have A Go If You Think You're Smart Enough, my good friend Alan was told he couldn't wear his blue checked shirt. The BBC gave him another blue checked shirt to wer which looked identical to his. In fact he swears to this day that it was his own shirt they gave back to him !

Clothing regulations are the reason why I ended up wearing that hideous pink shirt for the Mastermind final.

Thanks for a set of thoroughly absorbing and entertaining comments everyone.

Jim W said...

Amazing. Every single viewer in the land is convinced that I could have saved Jesus with some bollocks answers that I corrected wrongly. If only they knew I was no Peter, more a doubting Thomas.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00qzrcx/Gideon_Coe_24_02_2010/ (2hrs 15min in)