Tuesday, 2 March 2010

University Challenge

I'm reposting this in case you can't see the original : -
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.


Des Elmes said...

I have to admit I didn't expect this match to be as closely fought as it was - I expected that Manchester would win comfortably enough - and it is a real shame that we had to lose either team at all, let alone following a conclusion that was probably as dramatic as one will likely ever get.

Manchester made quite a number of timely buzzes along the way - including the speed of sound question and Jakob's guess on the music starter - which Edinburgh matched with their brilliance on the bonuses, answering 19 out of 24 correctly. Both teams zigged rather than zagged on a number of occasions (like the Don Quixote and eight-letter adjective starters), but managed to keep their heads right throughout.

It did seem awfully unfair on Edinburgh that the gong sounded quite literally milliseconds before Andrew could potentially give a match-winning answer for the second week running - but then it would have been unfair on Manchester if it had gone on just those few milliseconds longer and he had, as they did, in fact, maintain the lead throughout the entire contest.

It's easy to say that it ought to have produced yet another tiebreaker - but then if Manchester had lost that, having already lost one against St John's Oxford...

Not that it really matters now - they're in the semi-finals for an incredible sixth consecutive year. When you think about it, that's every series since the blue and purple set was introduced.

And they and Edinburgh getting up to congratulate and commiserate during the credits was a wonderfully sporting gesture. Bit of a shame Paxo didn't do what Bamber often did and get up to congratulate them himself, though.

Unknown said...

The success of Manchester can be attributed in a large part to the support and coaching of Stephen Pearson - an excellent quizzer in his own right and a thoruoghly nice bloke too!!

Welld done manchester on a hard fought victory and good luck in the semis!!

Gruff said...

I understand from a post made by Stephen Pearson on quizzing.co.uk that the Edinburgh player was asked by Paxo what he would have answered if the gong hadn't gone. Apparently he would have got the answer wrong. So no harm done.

Would it have been better to have recorded a faux ending where an answer was given? I would think not as it would have made the Edinburgh quizzer look like they had blown it for their team.

I have always been bothered by the way Paxo chivvies teams to answer quickly towards the end of the show but accepts interminable discussions early on.

Unknown said...

Edinburgh were a brilliant team, and they were all top blokes. Although it didn't make it to the screen, Andrew did say that he wouldn't have guessed the final question correctly, so that question wouldn't have made any difference; I'm not sure we could have held on if the match had been a couple of minutes longer mind! I was really pleased that they kept in the footage of us going to talk to the Edinburgh team, as at first they wanted to reshoot it; the respect there was genuine and (I think) mutual.

I know there have been some comments about supposed timewasting; all I'll say is that without pen and paper those bonus questions are much harder than they look, and we always gave an answer when pushed by Jeremy - this wasn't an intentional tactic.

Nick and I felt that we were slightly unlucky with our bonuses, as we'd have got full marks on the plastics and some of the other science questions, but this is no doubt a case of the grass being greener.

I think the vacuum question was probably my finest moment of the whole competition, especially as my awareness of the correct answer came in the second between my buzzing and me opening my mouth, as my brain frantically tried to tell me something was up...

Rach Cherryade said...

Thanks for another great write-up David, I'd forgotten quite how tense that match was, we had invited a few friends round to Cherryade Towers to watch it and I think it all got a bit tense for them, especially after the tie-break in the last match! I'd like to second Jakob's comments about Edinburgh who were great competition! It was funny watching Tom and my contributions to the second picture round, I had absolutely no idea what was going on! I would have liked Edinburghs set of word bonuses though!

Londinius said...

Hi Des, Chris , Gareth, Jakob and Rach,

Thanks for all of your comments. Gareth, I saw Stephen's posting too. I think it says a lot for Andrew that he came clean and admitted that he would have had the wrong answer anyway. Its typicl of what seemed to be a match played in a marvellous spirit by both teams.

Jakob, I really wouldn't take any comments about time wasting to heart. After all, it came down to fractions of a second as to whether Edinburgh would get a chance to answer that last question. As regards the vacuum question, I did think that you buzzed as the answer was just starting to occur to you. On such moments, whole matches hang.

Rach, as you'll know from your own experiences yourself there's times when you'd have preferred the other person/team's questions. The thing is to still manage to get the win even when this happens . .. and you did !

Great show. Looking forward to next - am I right in thinking tht UC is not on next week so that Kate Humble can give us a breathy live commentary on sheep giving birth ?

Des Elmes said...

I'm afraid so David.

I wonder why, as Jakob says, the producers would want to reshoot that credits sequence? It's not often you see such an act of sportsmanship on the show, and I really don't see why they would have any problems with it...

And I too have to applaud Andrew for admitting that the answer he would have given had the gong not sounded was wrong anyway.