Tuesday, 16 November 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge Round Two – Match 3 – Exeter v. York

Exeter, represented by James Williams, Adam Doggart, James Milnes and captain Tim Abbott, are already old hands in this series. They won through the repechage round by beating the fancied Cardiff team, and boasted a bit of a star in the shape of their skipper Tim Abbott. York, on the other hand, went through to this round as of right by beating the Royal College of Music. Their team consisted of Chris Caudwell, Ben Keane, Simon Donnelly and captain Andrew Clemo.

Lets get down to business. York were quickest into their stride tonight, when Andrew Clemo recognised a number of applications of the word cardinal. They went on to take 2 bonuses on films. Tim Abbott got Exeter off the mark with his answer that the Codex Sinaiaticus is the oldest existing Bible. An impressive full house of three bonuses on demons showed that the team seemed to mean business tonight. There was a superbly quick buzz from Chris Caudwell for the next question. The words . . . vegetable . . . former Chancellor of Germany . . . had hardly died on JP’s lips when he offered the correct answer – cabbage. Nice work that. 1 bonus on lilies in bloom was taken. The next starter went begging. In answer to the question who the ‘defeated’ candidate in the 2009 Iranian general election was, Tim Abbot interrupted, but the answer had just gone, and so did five points from Exeter’s score. When pushed by JP to take a guess Andrew Clemo offered Mussavi, correctly as it happened. They took a good three bonuses on pests. The Lateran Palace escaped both teams, as did a complicated , but splendidly inventive starter on As You Like It. JP got rather huffy when he was offered the names of a place – Amiens – and a character in the play – Orlando – rather than the name of the play itself. Another starter went, but then Adam Doggart recognised that Charleston was the place and the dance. They took one bonus on sociology and the self. There was a terrific picture starter next, with a set of European national flags within a Venn diagram. Ben Keane knew that the ones in the identified set were EU members. 2 bonuses followed, with only the EFTA set slipping through the net. So the first 10 minutes seemed very much York’s and they led by 75 to 25.

A truly difficult starter asking which would be the first date of this Millennium consisting of 8 different digits gave us our JP moment of the week. More of that later. Neither team knew that it was June 17th , 2345. Not surprised, either. Tim Abbott took another starter, recognising carbon dioxide when he heard it described. At a time when they really needed some bonuses they couldn’t muster any on Lord Chancellors. A starter on Marc Chagall escaped the net of both teams, but James Milnes knew a set of record transfer fee footballers. Lovely to hear the great old quiz chestnut Alf Common ( the first £1000 footballer ) given a name check. They took 2 bonuses on a set of words with A at the start, A in the middle, and A at the end – Alabama to give the first example. The Music starter wanted the name of the composer. Tim Abbott interrupted incorrectly, but York didn’t know it either. The next starter was left pristine and untouched. Andrew Clemo earned the music bonuses by identifying Northern blotting as something to do with RNA. Captain Clemo dropped a little bit of a clanger by passing one overture just as Simon Donnelly was correctly identifying it as Glinka, still, they managed one. At this stage the game was clearly slipping away from Exeter, so who shall blame Ti Abbott for trying to stop the rot by buzzing early. He didn’t get ergonomics, though, losing 5, which York did know. A single bonus on nuclear physics followed. Then Simon Donnelly hammered home the advantage by taking a Maths starter. Exeter it must be said were becoming rather profligate with bonuses, and only took one on islands off the coast of Britain. It doesn’t matter as long as you keep getting the starters right, and Ben Keane made sure that they took the next one, knowing that the word white links – rabbit – Christmas etc. Again, a single bonus followed. At the 20 minute mark York led by 130 to 45. A good position to be in, for sure, but with the number of starters they had been getting they ought to have been almost out of sight by now.

The second picture starter was Jack Kerouac, and it was not taken. Tim Abbott earned the bonuses that should have gone with it by knowing the Russian alcoholic drink being described was kvass. They took 2 of the pictures, knowing Ginsburg and Burroughs. Andrew Clemo hit back, with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Again, only one bonus followed. Ben Keane buzzed in extremely quickly to give two homophones required as Po and Poe, and joy of joys, a full house of three bonuses on events of 1547 followed. Then came the fightback I was beginning to worry would never happen. Four – yes, four – consecutive starters were correctly answered by Tim Abbott. He knew that there are restrictions on using octopi in lab testing, the word sage, ping pong diplomacy, and the fact that there are 7 basic plots. 7 bonuses were taken across the 4. Time was getting on, yet the gap had closed considerably. If they took the next starter . . .

They didn’t. Simon Donnelly took a physics starter next, and the fact they didn’t take any bonuses didn’t matter. It was just too late, and only time remained for Andrew Clemo to provide the correct answer Moldova to the next starter, when the gong sounded. A good match – and a surprisingly exciting end considering that York were comfortably on top for most of it, winning by 195 to 140.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Yes, prickly old Jeremy returned in full force tonight. Asked that brilliant but difficult date question he looked at both teams, and then, his voice dripping with sarcasm, said,
“ Shall we come back at the end of the programme. “?

Welcome back JP. I’ve missed you.

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

Ambrose Bierce – he of the Devil’s Dictionary – disappeared in Mexico in 1913, after joining Pancho Villa’s army as an observer.


Unknown said...

"He knew that there are restrictions on using octopi in lab testing..."

Although my inner pedant thought it a shame he didn't know the plural of octopus is octopuses, or, if you want to use the classical plural, octopodes.

Jack said...

Good fightback by Exeter. If it hadn't been for those five missignals, they could've taken it right to the wire. Five missignals isn't a record; Magdalen managed seven missignals in their 2007-08 play-off against Liverpool (which they still won!).

One question left me puzzled. It was the one about Thomas More becoming Chancellor after Wolsey and before Audley. With my flimsy knowledge of Tudor history, I thought Thomas Cromwell became Chancellor after More. But, thankfully, some research reveals that More was Lord Chancellor, and Cromwell was Chancellor of the Exchequer, two very different posts. So, that's that fixed.

Next week, its an all Cambridge match between Peterhouse and St John's. Should be another good one!

Des Elmes said...

I don't disagree that this was a good match - but I thought it was a bit of a strange one too.

Both sides out of the blocks quickly, then a large number of dropped starters before the first picture round and Exeter reducing their score by 60%. More dropped starters before the music round, then York making a surge and opening up a three-figure lead. Tim Abbott single-handedly reducing the deficit to 35, setting up a tense finish, before York finally get over the line.

Those five penalties did indeed cost Exeter dear - but that said, York didn't make it all that easy for themselves. Not only did they have the southwestern side coming right back at them at the end - but 15/33 isn't the most remarkable bonus conversion rate.

A win is a win, however, and this is the second time York has reached the last eight, the first being in 2006/7.

It is a shame to see Exeter go, though - Abbott in particular, who finished with 20 starters. If they'd had just a bit more consistency, who knows how they might have fared against the likes of Christ's and Oxford Brookes?

Londinius said...

Hi Guys

Jonathan, I think that the mistake may well be mine - I haven't checked on the iplayer yet thought. Sorry.

Jack, as always thanks for the stats. I must admit it hadn't occured to me to wonder whether we were seeing miscue record, but its interesting reading. I wonder, is there some kind of record for getting a lot of miscues, but also a lot of correct starters in the same show ? Tim Abbott certainly finished with a flourish despite what had gone before.


I tend to agree that York's performance on the bonuses won't necessarily have other teams quaking in their boots. But that said they were very quickly in for some of the starters, so you never know.

Thanks for the comments guys


Simon D said...

Hi, thanks for the review - these make interesting reading on Monday nights :)
My seat was perfectly placed for the scoreboard to be obscured behind Paxman's desk, so once Abbott got a triple-figure score I couldn't tell if we were still ahead or not! I think his quick buzzes for sage and the 7 basic plots constituted a lesson about hesitating when you've already thought of an answer.

Des Elmes, that's an interesting observation - behind the buzzers, a game (especially the second one) doesn't seem particularly strange in comparison to others. Things certainly take a different light when you count the bonus conversions etc. instead of points.


Londinius said...

Hello Simon, and welcome to LAM.

Many congratulations on winning through to the semis. Its always very rewarding for us to have the inside story from contestants such as yourself, and I thank you for this.

Best of luck in the quarters


Des Elmes said...

Hi Simon

My remarks about your team's performance and bonus conversion rate didn't upset you in any way, did they?

If they did, I truly apologise.

Your team did do well, don't get me wrong - and of course, one can never know how the bonuses are going to fall until they actually do fall. Indeed, Cardiff were desperately unlucky with them a few weeks back.

And I don't disagree that watching a match (either on TV or from the audience), and taking part in that match, are two very different experiences.

Many congrats, and best of luck in the last eight!

Simon D said...

Des - not in the slightest! No apology necessary.

Dave, Des - thanks for the well-wishing.