Monday, 27 September 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – First round match 13 - University of the Arts, London, v. Imperial

Ah, the exquisite agony of choice ! Two London universities, yet neither of them London University . The University of The Arts London is a new one on me, which is not surprising since they only became a University in 2004. Still, they’ve certainly made up for lost time, being now the largest educational establishment solely for the Arts in Europe. They were represented by Nigel Booth, Mary Vettise, Cliff Andrade, and captain Adam Walker.

Imperial actually used to be part of the University of London, but became independent in 2007. Their record in UC commands respect, having won the title twice. They were represented by Ed Brightman, Elliot Bajema, Courtney Williams, and their skipper, Nayer Youakim. JP helpfully reminded me that it was a case of Arts v. Sciences, and so not even having so much as an O Level in Science to my name I decided to support artists and new boys UAL.

Nigel Booth of UAL showed an impressive disregard for the gravity of having to bear the curse of the Clark sofa by snapping up the first starter for UAL, recognising several applications of the word green. A set of bonuses on children’s novels followed, two of which provided them with points. Nigel Booth must have enjoyed getting the first starter so much that he took the second as well for good measure, spotting that the greek philosopher referred to in the question was Aristotle. Bonuses followed on specific websites, of which one was taken. Courtney Williams of Imperial made a hell of a good answer to an inscrutable starter on square root days, which impressed JP as well.

The next starter was one of the picture starters that UC does so well. The outlines of countries of Europe were represented, but joined together in an unusual fashion so that they looked for all the world like an angry man about to stamp on something. If you didn’t see the show you’ll have to just trust me on this one. The country being stamped on was called for, but neither team could see that it was Iceland. Never mind, the bonuses on this picture came after the next starter, when Williams of Imperial correctly identified the conical hills of Auvergne. 2 out of the 3 map bonuses were taken. A definition of parts of the body followed, which began ‘humans have 2 over 2 ‘ , and it foxed Imperial. UAL had it eventually though, with teeth. The bonuses which followed were on Scientists, and understandably these weren’t so much to UAL’s liking. At the 10 minute mark it was pretty even, with UAL leading by 40 to 30.

The middle period saw UAL pull away, and yet it didn’t look like this would happen when Courtney Williams took another starter when she saw that the link between one of Chaucer’s pilgrims and a husband of Marilyn Monroe was Miller. Tit for tat, this time the scientists got asked bonuses on artists, and didn’t convert any. Nice little irony that. Ed Brightman of Imperial unsuccessfully interrupted a Geology starter next, five points away, but UAL didn’t know the answer. Elliot Bajema knew that if it’s a composer, and its something to do with fossils, then you won’t be far away with St. Saens’ Carnival of the Animals. In fact he was spot on. 2 bonuses followed.

The music starter was a lovely idea. JP announced that he was going to play a condensed album, with a very brief snatch of each of the tracks. UAL ‘s Mary Vettise needed only a couple of notes of the title song to correctly answer that it was London Calling by The Clash. Three more of the same followed, 2 of which were gratefully taken, although a point was dropped when they failed to give the title of the correct album by the Velvet Underground. Never mind, they had built up a little momentum, which they maintained by taking the next starter for a set of bonuses on Einstein.

Adam Walker at this point began at this point to play a real captain’s innings. He took the next starter with a correct identification of a couple of euphemisms for syphilis – ooh, Matron. With a full house on a set of bonuses on one of last week’s Mastermind subjects – Tennessee Ernie Williams – the team had begun to hit a rich vein of form. Adam Walker took the next starter, saying that Scotsman John Ray surveyed much of Northern Canada. Then he took the next as well. When JP asked which mood he was describing, and launched into a quote from a Keats ode, Mr. Walker buzzed in with the correct answer – Melancholy. Even a set of bonuses on biology didn’t do much to halt them in their tracks. However the next starter did – a great starter which asked which three elements of the periodic table start with two consecutive letters of the alphabet. Neither team managed it. At last Imperial managed to get a toehold back in the game when Courtney Williams earned a set of bonuses on sculptors. Still, this section of the contest clearly belonged to UAL, who now led by 130 to 70.

UAL looked good for a win, or at the very least a repechage spot. Imperial, though, were going to need to get a wiggle on to have even a chance of that. Adam Walker had no intention of allowing that to happen. Showed a picture starter of a landmark wrapped up in material, he correctly identified it as the Pont Neuf over the River Seine in Paris, when it had been wrapped up by the artist Christo. Whatever lights yer candle . . . I do like a good bridge bonus, and so did UAL who took a full set. I was surprised that JP reacted so calmly when neither side could correctly identify which Shakespeare character ‘murdered sleep’. Normally he takes it as a personal insult when a team get a Shakespeare question wrong. Adam Walker, the huge difference between the two sides tonight, stepped back up to the plate to take the next starter by explaining that VED stands for Vehicle Excise Duty. This earned a really nice set of bonuses on quotes by fathers of British Prime Ministers. UAL took one, but to be honest the bonuses were looking irrelevant, since they were ahead anyway, and Imperial weren’t hardly getting a sniff of a starter. Still Elliot Bajema hadn’t given up, and he knew that a set of deities from various religions were all identified with the sun. Two bonuses followed, but were in all honesty too little too late. Adam Walker won the buzzer race to identify that lemurs and loris were primates. Elliot Bajema took the next starter, explaining that the Dunlap Broadside and the Goddard Broadside were forerunners of the Declaration of Independence. Good shout that. Still, one more starter remained, which fell to Mr. Andrade of UAL, correctly explaining that a set of definitions all belonged to words containing a double e. At the gong UAL looked good value for their win, by 215 to 95. Very well done , and commiserations to Imperial, comfortably beaten on the night, but certainly not disgraced.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I think , this being the penultimate match of the first round, that JP was a little demob happy tonight. He seemed almost charming, although when one of the teams offered Limbs rather than Teeth he did favour them with one of his patented ‘are you out of your tiny mind ‘ hard stares. For once though he really hit the nail on the head when he congratulated UAL on a fantastic performance for a first appearance on the show. Amen to that, Jezzer.

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

Bebo is actually an acronym, and it stands for Blog Early, Blog Often. I can’t always promise the first, but I do try to live up to the second.


Simon D said...

I have to admit laughing several times when both teams were given bonuses that were clearly meant for the other side - photography, plays, and sculptors went to Imperial and physics, physics, medicine went to UAL (if memory serves). I started rooting for for UAL when they started getting science questions right - I look forward to their next round.
Well done to both teams, though; they struck me as very strong but stupendously unlucky!

Jack said...

I'm sure I read somewhere that Ed Brightman was the reserve for last year's Imperial team. So that's two weeks running that a reserve from last year has actually made it on properly.

I also thought it was rather amusing that the two teams seemed to get the wrong bonuses. Reminds me of a match last year, when the all male St Andrews team got a set of bonuses of feminism, while their all female opponents got the football bonuses!

Londinius said...

Hi Simon and Jack

I must admit I thought that bonus swap was ironic, but then part of the challenge is to be able to answer things that are out of your comfort zone. I'm not sure that I'd agree with stupendously unlucky - over the ourse of a show I do think that the luck tends to even itself out, but then that's just my opinion - as always feel free to disagree.

Thnaks for dropping by


Courtney Williams said...

Hi, Courtney Williams (of Imperial) here. I haven't worked up the courage to watch the show yet, so your summary helped me remember it a bit more! Glad the square root question impressed you - I must have checked my answer five times before actually saying it!

They told us teams were assigned opponents at random, but we doubted the veracity of that! I for one got incredibly frustrated as the show went on - I was always slightly too slow on the buzzer with the right answer (including for the bridges question and the "murdered sleep" one), and knew the answer to the majority of UAL's bonus questions. Still, it was lots of fun to take part in, and the best team on the day won. And, of course, it's just a quiz :)

For the record, our captain's full name is Nayer Youakim - not sure about UAL Andrade. Also, @Jack, Ed was indeed the reserve last year (or so I'm told - I've just finished first year so wasn't there at the time).

Des Elmes said...

Not the most spectacular match - but Walker was hugely impressive. I've got to admit, the way he picked off those starters in the second half of the show had me momentarily thinking of Alex Guttenplan - though of course it's perhaps too soon to say whether or not he's quite as good as AG.

I too was amused by the bonus swap, and also when Paxo told UAL "Don't dismiss these bonuses!" after they'd got several right as though these were unbelievably easy.

This result confirmed Exeter's place in the repechage - and if the losers of next week's final first-round match score less than 155, then all of the first four losing teams will be seen again, as was the case three years ago.

And, for the record, Andrade's first name is Cliff - as pointed out in UAL's own report of this match.

Des Elmes said...

I'm rather prattling on here, but that aforementioned final first-round match is between Merton Oxford and St John's Cambridge...

...which means that Manchester aren't taking part in this series.

I can't help but wonder: given that they've reached at least the semi-finals in each of the last six series, might the producers have decided that perhaps it was time for a change, and so turned down their application regardless? No disrespect here BTW.

Jack said...

I was thinking that as well Des. Maybe it's been felt that Manchester have been too dominant in recent times and they felt 'twas time to give others a chance.

I also note that Warwick haven't made it this year either. Now that's rare too. Just for the record, Warwick have made 12 out of 17 series, Durham 13, and Edinburgh 14.

Londinius said...

Hi Courtney, Des and Jack

Courtney, thanks for taking time to comment, and well done on your performance. I shall amend the post to include your skipper's name now.

Des and Jack - of course you're right about no Manchester - an interesting if not glaring omission. I wonder if any of our readers can shed definitive light on this one ?


Cold Coffee said...

Hi, Elliott Bajema from the Imperial team here.

UAL certainly outplayed us on that one. They were just too fast on the starters, most of which we frustratingly knew. I came down with Norovirus on the day, but tried my luck anyway.

The Macbeth mix up was unforgivable. I had just seen David Tenant play Hamlet so it came out of my mouth before my brain turned on. My apologies to all Shakespeare enthusiasts.

The bonus swap was unpleasant for us too. Usually we're a very strong team on Arts considering our Science focus!

I wonder if anyone noticed our joke answers that Guttenplan was a choreographer and Gilead Amit was a sculptor - Both references to last year's competition :-)

Anyway best of luck to UAL and hope you all enjoy the rest of the competition

Londinius said...

Hi Elliott,

Thanks for your comments. I must admit I didn't notice the references to Gilead and Alex - apologies for that. Yes, the buzzer is the ultimate arbiter of UC - you could see you guys racing to the buzzer on many of the starters, but Adam Walker is VERY quick.

Best regards


HughTube said...

As regards the lack of Manchester, if a team has a borderline audition score (I believe there are around 120+ institutions that apply and it's a forty question paper so there are probably many near the mark) then geographical spread, type of institution and how many times the university has appeared recently are considered.

It is probably that they have appeared too frequently that counted against them. Though Durham have now appeared for 13 series in a row.