Saturday, 27 February 2010

TV Watch University Challenge

University Challenge – Qualification/Elimination match – Edinburgh University v. Manchester University

Lets begin by throwing the form book out of the window, shall we ? Before the start of the contest it seemed to me that all we could usefully draw as conclusions from what has gone before is that we had two battle-hardened teams, veterans of four matches each already, both of them victorious in three matches, and both of them having experienced the slings and arrows of a sudden death tie – break. I haven’t added up the cumulative totals yet, but I believe that Manchester have scored more points than Edinburgh in the competition so far. Would it matter ? Probably not. In a match such as this all bets are off.

Mr. Kimmit set out his stall early, but unfortunately his early interruption was incorrect. Manchester gratefully identified Alexander McCall Smith as the creator of Precious Ramotswe et al. Tom Whyman of Manchester buzzed in for the second starter. A set of bonuses on Shakespeare followed, though not all were taken.Nick Daunt identified a definition of Osmosis to take Manchester’s 3rd successive starter. Amazingly this was a science starter I had right ! A set on sisters with famous brothers followed, and Manchester took a full set of bonuses. Now it was regular LAM reader, Captain Jakob Whitfield who buzzed in early . He knew that the answer was Cervantes, but unfortunately it came out as Don Quixote, who was created by Cervantes. Sometimes the tongue lets you down. It didn’t let Captain Hugh Brechin of Edinburgh down as he nipped in to put Edinburgh’s first points on the board.

Hugh Brechin it was who correctly identified a quote we were given as coming from the Constitution of the United States. Again, Jakob had a near miss with the Declaration of Independence. Already it was looking a close match, and maybe a test of nerves as well. A full set of bonuses on amendments to the Constitution reduced Manchester’s lead to 20 points. Jakob Whitfield was certainly holding his nerve, and he buzzed in on the next starter to identify Covent Garden in London. The gap widened to 40. Jakob obviously found this agreed with him, so he buzzed in early for the next starter as well, to earn a set of bonuses on titles of roman officials. They took one of these.

Last week’s hero, regular LAM reader Andrew Matheson buzzed in for his first starter, identifying the word Death as missing from a set of poems by Dylan Thomas, John Donne etc. I liked it very much when the team was asked as a bonus – which word for a fugitive has the first five letters of the alphabet in the correct order. Andrew replied – oh , I know ! – hen half a second later – No I don’t ! – Your honesty is an example to us all . I didn’t get it either – its absconder. They took the other two bonuses though, and Hugh Brechin took the next starter too, identifying the Raven’s Paradox. So absorbed was I in the contest that I didn’t look at the clock until the three bonuses on synthetic plastics were correctly taken. So I know that at 13 and a half minutes Edinburgh had pulled back, so that Manchester only led by 95 to 80.

The music started hoved into view , er , into hearing range. Andrew Matheson buzzed in to guess Puccini. Incorrect, unfortunately. A puzzled looking Jakob Whitfield buzzed in with “Mozart ? “, and looked equally puzzled when JP said he was right. Rachael ( don’t worry Rach, I was going to mention you sooner or later ) and the guys obviously know their arias from their elbows as they managed a bonus on Mozart operas and characters. Tom Whyman added to the lead by buzzing in for the next starter. Interestingly up to this point I don’t think that any of the starters had gone unanswered by either of the teams, and if that’s not a tribute to the quality of the teams tonight, then I don’t now what is. The next one did, though. So it was down to Hugh Brechin to tell us that 2 to the power of ten is ten times greater than ten to the power of two ( or was it the other way round ? ) Andrew and Hugh took a full set of bonuses on the planet Mars. Their were groans from Edinburgh when Andrew came close with the next starter, identifying two 8 letter adjectives as paternal and neonatal. The second was right, but parental was needed for the first.

As we moved into the last third of the competition our own Rach Cherryade made her characteristic timely buzz to relieve pressure and take a vital starter, identifying the abbreviation for Middlesex as being equivalent for the roman numerals for 1001, 500, and 510 ( MIDDX) .A set of bonuses followed on chemical formulae. Andrew Matheson showed that LAM readers keep their nerve when he identified a quote about an ingenious collection of portable plumbing as referring to the human body. 2 bonuses were taken . so with 4 minutes to go every answer was crucial, as Manchester led by a mere 15 points. Tom Whyman buzzed in to correctly say that Mary Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay. I was interested they were asked how many sides a threepenny piece had. I got that wrong in the rugby club a few months ago. What a man Jakob Whitfield was to keep his head, and get the next starter by answering that the speed of sound in a vacuum is nothing, because it can’t travel in a vacuum. Only a couple of minutes left, and Edinburgh needed to answer everything to pull back a 45 point deficit.They so nearly did. They pulled back to 165, Andrew Matheson buzzed in for an answer – and the gong went before he could say it.

Once again, Manchester and Edinburgh have taken me to the brink. Edinburgh, you played brilliantly, and I’m sorry I won’t be seeing you again. Rachel, Tom, Nick and Jakob, very well done. Beating the curse of the support from the Clark sofa is no mean feat ! Very good luck in the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

He set out his stall early this week, with
“YOU MAY NOT CONFER !” to Manchester following Edinburgh’s unsuccessful early interruption. When Manchester failed to identify that the recipient of a forged letter in “Twelfth Night” was Malvolio, he replied “Oh Dear”, in the same tone that I guess he would use if his favourite aunt had just told him that he’d run over her cat.
When faced with a set of chemical formula bonuses he testily bullied Manchester – oh come on , we can’t wait here all night ! Hooray ! The Paxman is back in town. He followed up with a withering “Shall we come back to you after Newsnight ? “

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

Only 5 Commonwealth States lie entirely North of the Tropic of Cancer – and Pakistan is one of them. I guessed Canada, Malta , UK , Cyprus – but that one escaped me.

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