Tuesday, 21 September 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Round One heat 12 – Edinburgh v. Jesus , Oxford

Edinburgh University became Scotland’s 4th university at a time when England still had just the two, a fitting testament to the value that the Scots have always placed upon education. Fact, that, and its not just my Scottish blood that leads me to say it. Interestingly Edinburgh’s team last night have prepared by playing in pub quizzes. Well done for that guys. Being pub quizzers, though, left them at the mercy of the curse, since it guaranteed them support from the Clark sofa. Edinburgh were represented by Ben Grey, Jack Binns, Andrew Gray, and captain Ben Skerry.

As you might have expected from the name, Jesus College was founded for the education of the clergy. The college has long standing links with Wales – hello, another bid for support from the sofa there, I think. Jesus, much to my sadness, were not represented by anyone called Jones. I simply long for the day when Roger Tilling will announce the first to the buzzer for a starter as “Jesus – Jones “. Not having a Jones, though, Jesus were well served by Adam Clement, Sara Milne-Das, Ross McDonald, and captain Ben Brock. Apologies if I misheard anyone’s name, the sound quality from the laptop really wasn’t the best today, for some reason .

The first starter fell to Gray of Edinburgh. Ross McDonald buzzed in a little too quickly with Equinox, while JP was just about to say that the term he wanted comes from the latin for the sun stands still. Yes, it was the other one, solstice. 3 bonuses followed on 1910. 2 out of three bonuses were taken.Great shout from Edinburgh’s skipper Ben Skerry on the next question, identifying that it is the head of Archimedes that is featured on the Fields Medal. 3 bonuses followed on Theatres.No bonuses were taken. Neither team took a starter on pizza toppings. A good starter answer from Andrew Gray followed on somebody’s Exclusion Principle. ( Stop me if I’m being too technical )A lovely set of bonuses followed on falling stars. I knew John Donne’s poem , but the biblical quote escaped me.Both Edinburgh and I knew which HG Wells novel has a chapter called The Falling Star. So far it had all been one way traffic. Captain Ben Brock put Jesus into credit with a great quick buzz to identify that of the four things Churchill famously offered the country, only toil is not a bodily fluid. Bonuses on number 51 followed.You just knew Area 51 was going to be part of it. One bonus was taken. For the picture starter the teams were asked to identify a large area of water. Ross McDonald dived in with the Pacific Ocean, but Jack Binns took the points with the Black Sea. More of the same followed, which seemed very much to Edinburgh’s liking as they bagged a full set. A highly impressive early buzz from Ben Grey identified one and a half definitions as belonging to the word progressive. Exhibits from the British Museum was the bonus category, but this proved less to Edinburgh’s liking, and they only managed one. Still, at the ten minute mark Edinburgh could be very pleased with their work so far, while Jesus were still trying to prize their way into the match, with the scores at 85 – 10 to Edinburgh.

Ben Brock was in like a rocket to identify a Soviet invasion of an eastern bloc country – ostensibly to help the legitimate governments. As soon as JP said “1956” he answered. Unfortunately he gave the answer ‘Prague. ‘ Ah, no, that was 1968, but its so easy to make a mistake like that when you’re under pressure. Ben Grey accepted the windfall, giving Hungary. Bonuses on trees followed, and brought Edinburgh another full set. My goodness , but Andrew Gray was impressive on the next starter.The words – which country has more linguistic diversity – had barely died on JPs lips when he gave without the slightest hesitation the correct answer – Papua New Guinea. No, I didn’t know that, but I won’t forget it in a hurry now. Three bonuses on witches followed – rather appropriate that there were three of them really. Edinburgh’s up and down bonus form continued, as they took none of them.

A beautiful starter followed . The three first letters on the third row of a qwerty keyboard make which number in roman numerals ? XCV makes 95, but neither team got it. Andrew Gray maintained his impressive form taking a starter on lichens straight after. It was beginning to seem a long time since Jesus had managed their correct starter. Bonuses on computers and IT followed. Edinburgh’s conversion of bonuses wasn’t as good as some teams we’ve seen this series, but when you’re answering most of the starters anyway it really doesn’t matter. The Music starter followed, and Ross McDonald, who had been gamely buzzing far more than his team mates took his first correct starter of the night identifying the dulcet tones of Chuck Berry. A clenched fist showed how relieved he was. 3 bonuses on pieces of music from Tarantino films followed of which Jesus managed 1. Ben Skerry buzzed in on a definition of the Japanese fugu, just to reassert Edinburgh’s authority, which then earned them a crack at a set of bonuses about 19th century foreign secretaries. George Canning and the brother of the Duke of Wellington were quickly identified, thought the capital of the Gambia – formerly Bathurst escaped them. Never mind, there would be another starter along in a second, and there was, and Ben Grey answered it for them. He knew that Arthur Ransome used the names of birds in many of the titles of his novels. Even missing 2 bonuses they were ominously close to 200 points already and the next starter took them even closer. Then Jack Binns took another starter, knowing that Copenhagen gives its name to an interpretation of quantum physics. Just time for three bonuses before the twenty minute mark, and Edinburgh took all 3. At the 20 minute mark they led by 215 to 25.

So going into the last 10 minutes the match was over. What interest was left there for the viewer ? Great questions were yet to be asked of course. Still, even though Edinburgh had won, how close could they get to 300. Even though Jesus had lost, and really didn’t have enough time to approach a repechage score, could they climb out of the slough of despond into a 3 figure score ? The picture starter fell to Edinburgh though, who seemed to take along time to decide that Andy Warhol’s picture of Debbie Harry was by Andy Warhol, and seemed a little disbelieving when it was confirmed. 1 Warhol bonus was taken. A lovely starter followed on Foxes – George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends – Digitalis, being foxglove, you see how it works, I’m sure. Inevitably Edinburgh took the points. With the bit still as firmly between their collective gnashers as it had been for the whole match, Andrew Gray let JP say Perseids and Leonids before buzzing in to correctly identify them as meteor showers. 2 bonuses followed. Poor Jesus, the agony continued with Ben Skerry knowing that a length of yarn can be a skein, and therefore so must a group of geese in flight be. Another set of bonuses to Edinburgh. Then another starter, and all the time the clock ticked inexorably onwards. They had reached 300 with a couple of minutes still to spare. I was strangely moved when Ross Macdonald correctly identified Greenland for the next starter , and actually jumped out of my chair. He deserved no less than this. Unfortunately they couldn’t convert any bonuses. Back to Edinburgh. It was a fair bet that if Westminster Abbey was so called to distinguish it from the East Minster, then the East Minster must be St. Pauls. Andrew Gray certainly felt so. At last the gong sounded, bringing Edinburgh a win by 335 to 35.
I shuddered to think what JP was going to say to Jesus. “Well, I’m sorry to say this Jesus, but there’s no way to sugar the pill, that was a terrible performance. You didn’t seem to be properly engaged. “ Well, let he who be without nerves cast the first stone. These are four extremely bright and able students, who doubtless beat others to earn their place in the team. It just didn’t work for them tonight. Them’s the breaks. Honestly, Jesus, please don’t let it get you down, and don't take any thoughtless comments you may see or hear anywhere else too much to heart. At the end of the day its only a game. Edinburgh though demand now to be taken very seriously. Any score over 300 commands huge respect, and the speed of their buzzer work, and the range of their knowledge marks them out as another team to watch. Congratulations !

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When Edinburgh sensibly guessed that the theatre opened in the shell of the burnt out Shakespeare Memorial theatre in Stratford upon Avon was called the Globe, JP replied “ No, it’s the Swan. The Globe is in London. “Well, that was what the words said. The tone said “ How could you possibly get that wrong ? Are you mad ? “ He just HATES it when they get a Shakespeare one wrong. Then they got the next one wrong as well, and the tone of the Paxman reply said “ Oh, I give up !”
Funnily enough he seemed remarkably mellow for the rest of the show, although he certainly gave Jesus both barrels at the gong.

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

The Margherita as in Pizza Margherita is named after the queen consort of Umberto I.


Jack said...

I don't know if anyone remembers, but Edinburgh and Jesus College Oxford played each other in the quarter-finals last year, with Edinburgh winning on a tie-break. So it was actually a bit of a grudge match.

I was almost pleased to see Jesus get that starter towards the end, thus avoiding the lowest ever Oxbridge score.

Good to see Edinburgh do well though. My dad was at Edinburgh, and I know someone who's just started there. It's also the joint sixth biggest win of the revival, trying with Nottingham's infamous first round win over New Hall Cambridge back in 97-98.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

I remember it now that you've said it, but didn't before I read your comment.

Not a lot I can add to what's been said in the main post really - its just one of those things as far as Jesus are concerned. Well done to Edinburgh, though. Could do well again this year.

Jim W said...

This show was actually filmed about four days after our QF v Edinburgh was broadcast. So, yeah, Edinburgh gave us a pasting that week. (The entire 2011 series was in the can before the Guttenplan et al final was broadcast.)

I picked this year's team - and reckoned they were collectively as good as our lot. Ross McDonald was our reserve last year and this was his fourth year attempting to get on the show. Ben Brock is a very bright lad but the questions didn't come up. All round, just didn't work out.

But if you don't get an early couple of starters and if that big scoreboard is looming in your mind and if you start thinking about how this is looking on TV and if you're dwelling on that last wrong answer and and and and....you go to pot.

Top fisting pumping though, eh?


Londinius said...

Hi Jim

'fisting pumping ' - I certainly didn't see any of THAT going on !

Nice of you to drop by


Des Elmes said...

For the record, all four members of the Edinburgh team picked up at least three starters, and they got 29 out of 55 bonuses correct.

Not quite as spectacular as Magdalen's 38 out of 48 last week, but like them and also Sheffield, Edinburgh definitely look like a force to be reckoned with. It would be a great shame if any two of them met in the second round.

Incidentally, this result confirmed St Andrews' place in the repechage, so further good news for the Old Scottish Universities.

Ewan M said...

I thought my alma mater Edinburgh were highly impressive: fast on the buzzer and displaying an impressively wide range of knowledge with all team members contributing. I'd fancy their chances against anyone bar Magdalen. It's shaping up to be an interesting competition.

xxxzzz said...

Just a minor correction; Margherita of Savoy was the consort of Umberto I not Umberto II.

Londinius said...

OOps -my mistake. All corrected now.