Tuesday, 19 October 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Play Off 1 – Cardiff v. Exeter

Well, lets get down to business, shall we ? Cardiff were the higher scoring of these two teams in the first round, where Henry Pickup, Rosie Howarth, Greg Rees and captain Shane O’Reilly were unfortunate to score 210 and lose to Oxford Brookes on a tie break in the second match of the series. Exeter, on the other hand, represented by James Williams, Adam Doggart, James Milnes, and captain Tim Abbott lost to Peterhouse in match 4 despite scoring 165. On paper it looked like advantage Cardiff. However . . .

The first starter was about which member of the royal family has a design award named after him. Part from giving us our Paxman moment of the week, it also allowed Greg Rees to get in with the first correct answer of the night after Exeter incorrectly guessed Prince Charles. Oh well, if its not Charles, then its going to be Philip. Cardiff signposted their serious intentions by taking three out of three bonuses on modern poets. They followed this up when Henry Pickup correctly identified a series of words beginning with the letters – mal. Only one out of three bonuses was picked up on Tudor rebellions. Bearing in mind the similar first round performances of both teams it always looked like the bonus conversion rate could be crucial tonight. Captain Tim Abbott put the first point son the board for Exeter , spotting that a question was referring to the carbon 14 dating technique. He drew the relatively short straw of a set of bonuses on baroque composers, and the team did well to get one of the bonuses. Neither team could manage the next starter, but Tim Abbott took the next by identifying the Paris Commune. 3 bonuses on motion followed, and greedy Exeter gobbled up the lot. All square. Greg Rees took the picture starter which showed a CV which he correctly identified as belonging to JFK. All 3 bonuses, which were more of the same , were gratefully accepted. Henry Pickup knew that the capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana, but the team couldn’t manage to answer any of the bonuses on Charles Dickens. At the ten minute mark a very tight contest so far saw Cardiff just with their noses in front by 75 – 35

Rosie Howarth recognised a definition of enamel for the next starter. Again, though, all 3 bonuses eluded Cardiff. You can win a contest without doing very well on the bonuses, but you do make it much harder for yourself. James Williams of Exeter correctly spotted that the latin for seawater is the origin of the word marinade.One bonus on palaces was taken. Tim Abbott, very much the mainstay of his team for much of the match, knew that if it’s a question about an American economist , you’ll be right more often than you’re wrong if you answer Milton Friedman. A brilliant three out of three bonuses followed on Prime Ministers and prime numbers. No, not explaining, you’ll just have to watch the show on the iplayer. James Milnes took the music starter, identifying a track by the Strokes. More tracks from the same compilation album followed, , and 2 were taken. This was a brilliant fightback by Exeter, who certainly had momentum at this stage. However Cardiff are too good a team to be swatted out of the way, and Greg Rees was still very sharp on the buzzer, as he answered a starter on the number of human figures in paintings. Alas for them, Cardiff only earned a set of bonuses on Danish film makers for their pains. Hardly surprising that they didn’t get any of them. Still, Rosie Howarth weighed in with the next starter, recognising different definitions that applied to the word – main. Bonuses were still proving hard to come by for Cardiff, and they only managed one of a set on booksellers’ abbreviations.

James Williams knew the old chestnut that the lady Dante loved from afar was Beatrice. The dropped bonus condition was infectious, so it seemed though, as Exeter could only answer one on historians. Once again, all was square. Cardiff managed the next, a Science starter on Chemistry. Captain O’Reilly of Cardiff took his first starter to earn a set of bonuses on Physics. Again, they failed to convert any into points. The next starter, the second picture starter, saw Adam Doggart correctly identify a picture of an installation in the Tate Modern. A set of three bonuses on installations in the Tate Modern saw them eventually get one which was by Anish Kapoor – one bonus , but enough to give them a slight lead of 125 to 120 as we moved to the 20 minute mark.

James Milnes increased Exeter’s lead, knowing that Archbishop Usher had set a precise date and time for the creation of the world. Bonuses on the Methode Champagnois followed, but none were converted. Greg Rees of Cardiff then narrowed the gap by recognising several definitions which all belonged to the word – fell. Yet again the bonuses failed to fall kindly for them , and they could not convert any of a set on theological terms. Neither team recognised a definition of Oxo. Adam Doggart then took a good starter by explaining that the 2nd Lord of the Treasury is more usually known as The Chancellor of the Exchequer. At last a bonus was answered correctly when Exeter managed to answer one on the locations of Halls. Another starter went begging when neither team recognised that the name shared by a European mountain range and a hebridean island is Jura. James Milnes, who had supplied some fine starters during the match buzzed early to link the name white Russian with a cocktail and a soldier fighting against the red army in the Russian civil war. Questions on South American countries’ coats of arms followed, and again, one was taken. Shane O’Reilly played a captain’s innings by getting a desperately needed early starter on chemistry. How they needed a full set of onuses on number systems. Again, they all went begging , I’m afraid. The next two starters escaped the clutches of both teams unscathed. The gap was a mere 25 points at this stage. Then the net fell to Tim Abbott, who’d had an uncharacteristically quiet few minutes. Now the flood gates opened as Exeter took a full set of bonuses on pairs of words that sounded similar.3 out of 3 taken, and what looked like a possibly winning lead established. Poor Greg Rees buzzed in quickly to guess that the latin mille passus was the origin of the word mile. Well, you could certainly see the kilometre appealing to the orderly minded romans, but as Adam Doggart of Exeter knew it was the origin of the word mile. 2 bonuses out of 3 on languages of Asia pretty much sealed the win, and Tim Abbott added a little gilt by identifying the planet originally named after one of the King George’s as Uranus. 2 bonuses on spouses of English monarchs followed. That was it. The gong went before JP could complete another question. A comfortable win for Exeter in the end by 225 to 140 just underlined the importance of converting bonuses. Once Exeter started doing that in the last few minutes there really was no way back for Cardiff. Well played.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

For once JP’s closing comments hit the nail almost squarely on the head. He commiserated with Caridff, who led for large parts of the match, saying that the questions just didn’t fall for them. To be specific, Jezza, it was the bonuses that didn’t. Them’s the breaks.
My favourite Paxman moment happened with the very first starter. When Cardiff took their time, he said “I don’t know why you equivocated so much, there’s nobody else would come to mind !” Still – he did have a point. You can’t really see Her Majesty the Queen complaining about having to practically make love to a TV remote control to make it work.

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

Marinade comes from the latin for seawater.


Jack said...

I'd say this is the first shock of the series. Cardiff looked more impressive in Round 1, so, as you quite rightly say, they had the advantage on paper. But as you say, it was the bonuses that made the difference, and, ultimately, it was Exeter's final sprint that won the match. Well done indeed!

Also, I wonder if anyone noticed the substitution for Exeter, with Adam Doggart coming on for Fionn Raven. You don't see many substitutions these days. We had none last year, but at least four two years ago.

On a lighter note, Michael Slater (from the Balliol team) was on the Weakest Link last night, and got voted off in the first round!

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

I wouldn't be surprised if someone had a little quiet word with the others about Michael Slater, and a wee bit of tactical voting went on there.

Good point about the substitution - well spotted. Adam Doggart certainly played his part in the win too.


HughTube said...

Interesting that bonuses should separate these two teams both of which lost their first round matches because their opponents were stronger on the bonuses. Next week is a bit different as St Andrews were one of the strongest on their bonuses and lost on starters.

Jacob said...

This is not a shock. I strongly disagree with Jack. Peterhouse were incredible, let's not forget that.

The only teams that can beat Exeter will be exceptionally strong. With a captain like Abbott and a strong supporting team, they're a good bet for the quarter-finals. If they fail to make that, it'll be a damn strong team that does it. Mark my words.

Jack said...

Fair enough Jacob, you're entitled to your opinion as well. It's just that, on paper, Cardiff had the advantages.

But I was expecting great things from Exeter, after I read on Jacob Funnell's page that they were very good. So, secretly, although I thought Cardiff might have the advantage, I wasn't ruling out Exeter to show us what they could really do. And they did indeed!