Tuesday, 30 November 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge - Round Two – Match 5 - UCL v. Sheffield

Yes, my friends, it’s the return of Tris and Hugh of the mighty Sheffield team. No apologies for putting the full weight of Clark support behind Andy Bolton, our own Tristram Cole, captain Tom Thirkell and LAM regular Hugh Bennett, who beat Newcastle so emphatically in their first round match. Standing in their way , though, were the distinctly useful University College London side of Christopher Hale, John Walker, captain James Vale and David Dearlove. The team had seen off Hertford College Oxford in their own first round match.

First blood fell to my boys, when Andy Bolton identified that JP was talking about UNESCO. 2 bonuses followed on relatives of Prime Ministers. Tris Cole took his first of the night, knowing that if it’s a fault in the earth’s crust , then you’ll be right to say San Andreas far more often than not. 2 bonuses on Babylon followed. UCL took their first starter with the third, when they knew that the report being described was the Beveridge Report.They took one bonus. There was a superb buzz from Tris on the next starter. He knew that Houdini’s real name was Eric Weiss – and Weiss means white, so that’s the adjective applying to him. He did all that in about a split second. Still, UCL were very much in the contest despite the excellent start that Sheffield were making, and they took the picture starter, identifying that the are of the USA shown on a map would be dominated by Baptists. David Dearlove also took the next starter too, and JP gleefully informed them that a full set of bonuses would give them the lead. They didn’t take all of them, but 1 put them only five points behind. Christopher Hale of UCL , who had a very impressive night, was clearly relishing the contest, and he won the buzzer race to identify Phillipe Petain as the hero of Verdun. So after a whirlwind first ten minutes UCL led by 75 to 60.

Christopher Hale continued by taking the next starter , recognising several definitions of the word damper. A set of bonuses on authors and the Royal Mail gave them a full set. Someone in Sheffield needed to act swiftly to halt the flow of one way traffic, and it was our man Tris who did, supplying the correct answer of archetype to a JP definition. A set of bonuses on acid saw them add another ten to their score, only missing out on malic. LAM regular Hugh Tube – er – Bennett took the next starter, in what I would say is the LAM equivalent of a tag team manoeuvre. He knew that a conductor being described was Daniel Barenboim. A set of bonuses on the History of Paris rather confounded them, though. John Walker of UCL recognised an Elgar cello concerto for the music starter, but UCL only managed one of the bonuses on other composers’ cello concertos. Never mind. John then answered the Dada starter correctly to stretch the gap a little further. Not all the bonuses were being taken by either side, so the gap remained at a manageable size, and Andy Bolton of Sheffield narrowed it a little by taking a starter on mosses. 2 bonuses on Science Fiction Laws followed. Tris maintained the momentum by recognising Gresham’s Law. Bonuses on parliaments fell as a full set . Once again, the gap had narrowed, and Hugh grabbed back the lead by recognising definitions of the word empire. So at the 20 minute mark our boys from Sheffield led by 160 to 130.

Into the last few minutes, then, and all was still to play for. Tris was keeping his head, and knew that a cocktail with rye whiskey, bitters and vermouth, and a famous project would both be a Manhattan. They didn’t manage any of a tricky set of bonuses on stories. The second picture starter saw Christopher Hale have a good stab at identifying a photograph showing the portrayal of Edith Piaf by Marion Cotillard. He got the singer, but not the title of the film. Hugh, though, knew that it was La Vie en Rose. Bonuses on actors portraying singers saw them take 2 bonuses. Tristram, I have to say, your amazing buzz for the mathematical question on palindromic years left me speechless. You have to say this about Sheffield. They’re a very hard side to beat anyway, but when the wind is in their sails there seems to be no stopping them. The bonuses on chemical industrial processes brought them another two bonuses. Hugh then knew that tarantella and Tarantino both derive from Taranto. The gap, which had been so small just a few minutes earlier, had by now stretched to 95 points, and it was looking more and more like a Sheffield win.

Still, UCL are too good to be lightly dismissed and skipper James Vale took the next starter, knowing that if you draw a straight line from Cambridge to Bristol it goes through Oxford. A full set of bonuses were taken, and they took the next starter as well. 3 full bonuses were taken. The indefatigable Christopher Hale took the next starter too, and the gap was visibly shrinking. 3 bonuses on enclaves brought them to 205 against Sheffield’s 225. Another full set, and the lead would be theirs. They didn’t get the next, but neither did Sheffield. That man Hale took the next , knowing the Lord Chancellor executed in 1535 was Thomas More. With bonuses this gave them a 5 point lead. Was there time for another starter ? Yes, and our boy Tris got it ! Bonuses on US rivers followed, and 3 were taken. The lead was taken back, but there was time for two more starters. Neither of which were correctly answered. So they did it ! Congratulations to Tris, to Hugh, and to Andy and Tom.

Spare a thought for UCL, though. They were terrific, I thought, and played an equal part in a fantastic match. Very hard lines.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Good Lord ! There really was nothing really to report today. It was nice to see JP thank both teams for a terrific match. For once, he was absolutely spot on.

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

The cultural movement Dada actually took its name from a French word for rocking horse. You probably knew it, but I didn’t.


Jack said...

I thought last week's match was the best of the series so far, but this one takes it by a long way.

100 points in roughly four minutes is an outstanding achievement, and it's a shame we won't be seeing UCL again. Christopher Hale was on great form, finishing the series with eight starters over two games.

230 is not far off the all time highest losing score in the Paxman era (Sheffield's 240 from 2001). Losing scores as high as this say something about the standard of the teams this series.

Well done Hugh and Tris! A deserved win, and I look forward to your next match.

Oh yes, and Mr Thirkell's first name is Tom.

HughTube said...

Thanks Dave for another great review and your support. It was a pleasure to be in such a close match. I couldn't see the scoreboard so hadn't really noticed what a great fightback they had until we watched on Monday, though it certainly felt tense at the time. Feel sorry for UCL, knowing how we'd have felt if it was the other way round, particularly Hale, who had some excellent buzzes, he was very quick.

Thanks Jack, I thought this match would really stand out when we recorded it but have since seen several close high scores, great to be part of such a good series.

And it is Tom Thirkell.

Des Elmes said...

I honestly didn't think this match would be quite as good as last week's - and boy, was I proved wrong.

In fact, I see no reason whatsoever why it shouldn't be described as a classic...

Both teams were remarkably brilliant right throughout - there certainly wasn't any shortage of great interruptions to starters (particularly from Chris Hale and Tris), and the performances on the bonuses were excellent too (see below).

And UCL's comeback from 95 points down could only make things even better.

It's a great shame that we must lose them, just like with Exeter and St John's Cambridge. Then again, it would have been a great shame too if Sheffield had lost - and I agree with Jack, losing scores like UCL's do give an indication of the standards of this year's teams.

Hugh and Tris, many congratulations, and the best of luck in the quarter-finals. And thank you, too, for helping provide such a fantastic match!

The stats? Like the Ashes game in Brisbane, there's loads of them:

* UCL's losing score is the highest since the aforementioned 240 by Sheffield against Hull (250) in 2000/1.

* It's also the joint fifth-highest losing score in the Paxman Era. Three teams have lost with 235 - Aberdeen against Sean Blanchflower's Trinity Cambridge (245) in 1994/5, the Open University against Magdalen Oxford (265) in 1997/8, and Birkbeck London against the OU (240) in 1998/9 - while Warwick also scored 230 when losing to Imperial (300) in 1995/6.

* It's the first time since 1998/9 that there have been two consecutive matches where the losing team scored 200 or more.

* The match aggregate of 480 may be some 90 short of the Paxman Era record - but it is the highest since Christ Church Oxford beat Nottingham 305-180 in 2007/8.

* As for the match stats, Tris got seven starters for Sheffield, while Hale picked up six for UCL. Sheffield answered 24/39 bonuses correctly, UCL a superb 24/33, and there were no missignals.

Next week sees Magdalen take on Downing Cambridge. It's easy to expect that the Oxford team will win after their masterclass performance against an otherwise very good Durham side - but surely it's just that bit too much to expect that it'll be another absolute cracker?!

Londinius said...

Thanks as always Jack, Des, and congratulations Hugh. A superb team performance to which you made key contributions at exactly the key moments.

Sincere apologies to Tom Thirkell - Tom, if you're reading I have changed the post and can only say I'm sorry.


Jacob said...

Poor Durham.

A good team of theirs met the imperious Corpus Christi in the first round a couple of series back, and then in this series they meet Magdalen, who have Haddad-Fonda.

In a Cambridge vs Oxford quiz match, attended by Alex Guttenplan and Gail Trimble, he outscored both of them comfortably.

Suffice to say, I'm looking forward to the match with Downing!