Tuesday, 7 December 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Round Two – Match 6 – Downing, Cambridge v. Magdalen, Oxford

Ah, an Oxbridge tussle! This much-anticipated match pitted underdogs Downing of Cambridge against the highest scoring team of the first round, Magdalen of Oxford.

In a low scoring first round match Downing accounted for another Oxford college, St. Edmund Hall. Will Winzor, Gareth Haslam, Owen Carter, and captain Stefan Liberadzki scored 160 to Teddy Hall’s 95.

Magdalen carried much of the hopes of Oxford into the match tonight, and they certainly had a team capable of bearing that load, in the shape of James McComish, Kyle Haddad-Fonda, Will Cudmore and captain Matthew Chan. The team had put in one of the finest first round performances for many a long year when they beat Durham by 340 to 120.

On with the show. First to show a touch of class this evening was Will Cudmore. He buzzed in quickly to take a starter on Holy Roman Emperor’s called Fred. The Magdalen mean machine gobbled up 3 starters on Rudolfs. Obviously this was going to be a night when gambling on the buzzer was going to be necessary, so I don’t blame Gareth Haslam for his miscue on Conurbation. However it did mean that Downing were stuck on minus 5 for some time. Will Cudmore took it, which netted 3 more bonuses, and then he took the next starter identifying king Priam. Only a few minutes gone, but already with three starters to his name, this was impressive quizzing from Mr. C. Slipping a little Magdalen could only supply 2 out of 3 correct answers on grandfathers and grandsons. Kyle Haddad-Fonda, whose reputation seems to have preceded him judging by some of the comments after his first round match, took the next starter, identifying a definition of parthenogenesis. No bonuses followed. However Gareth Haslam put Downing into the match by taking the next starter on Uncle Vanya. One bonus fell to Downing on animal migration. Will Cudmore added another starter to his growing hoard by taking the first picture starter, identifying an Italian inscription as being written by Dante and recycled by TS Eliot. Good shout that one. Neither team managed the next starter, but Owen Carter brought a whirlwind first10 minute to a close by taking the next. So at the 10-minute mark Downing had obviously been shaken to the core by Magdalen’s – and particularly Will Cudmore’s – lightning start, but were still standing, and edging their way back into the match. Magdalen led by 100 to 20.

Will Winzor pegged back the gap a little by taking the next starter on the morpheme – lest. One bonus on architects followed. Then Stefan Liberadzki did what all good captains must do, and led by example, knowing his Mensheviks from his Bolsheviks. This led to a good 2 bonuses on Scottish mountains. Then, unaccountably, two starters passed untaken. Shame on neither team recognising Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It really is a jungle, sometimes, and it does make me wonder how I keep from going under. Please yourselves. Owen Carter was the next to score, anyway, but recognising the name of the skin test for TB. This earned them the hip-hop bonuses, of which they took a pair. Kyle Haddad-Fonda miscued on the next starter losing five, but when asked for a particular word containing – ptc – Downing knew that bankruptcy was the order of the day. The gap was virtually closed, and when Matthew Chan lost 5 points on the next starter, this pulled them level. Great fightback. Will Cudmore steadied the ship with the next starter on the Argonautica, and then James McComish took his first of the night on paper. At the 20-minute mark Magdalen led by 120 to 80, but the second period had definitely been Downing’s.

The last period saw James McComish playing more and more of the anchor man’s role for Magdalen. He took the next starter recognising a self-portrait of Delacroix. Then, after an incorrect early buzz from Gareth Haslam he took the next, recognising terms equivalent to our own PLC. Time was not now on Downing’s side, even though they were still full of fight. They took the next couple of starters, and in particular, this little beauty of a question – the name of which English county can be made from two foreign words, both of them meaning of or from. Stefan Liberadzki knew it was De – Von . You only get questions like this on UC, folks. However it fell to Kyle Haddad-Fonda to apply the coup de grace, and he took the last two starters. In the end Magdalen won with daylight between themselves and Downing by 190 to 125, but make no mistake, they knew they’d been a fight afterwards. JP said to Downing words to the effect of they’d done well early on, but tailed off. Not the way I saw it, JP. The huge difference between the two sides had been Magdalen’s blitzkrieg start. Like Sheffield last week Magdalen’s second round was considerably harder than their first, but they’ll be all the stronger and better for it.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I rather enjoyed hearing JP make a bit of a meal of the word ‘hiphop’ this week. There was one other comment of note too. With one bonus question on which Downing were struggling he chortled,
“I love the fact that you can’t think of anything – it’s so wonderfully dismissive.”

Interesting Fact Of The Week I Didn’t Already Know

The word widdershins is actually originally a Scottish dialect word.


Jack said...

Wow, I'm surprised. Downing actually put up quite a good fight.

When Downing pulled level, we could of been in for a shock. But when Magdalen pulled away again, they never really looked back, though they did look a bit worried for a while there.

Unfortunately, Stefan Liberadzki inadvertently gave the result away a bit on an online article about the show, saying that he took part in two shows. Thus accidentally giving away that Magdalen would win no matter what. I can find the link and post it here if you want.

Might as well do the week's stats: Downing made 9/27 bonuses with two penalties, Magdalen went 19/32 with three penalties. Will Cudmore got five starters, Stefan Liberadzki and Owen Carter got three each. Mr Carter finishes the series with seven starters over two matches.

I also note that Mr Chan has yet to answer any starters right. Nice shirt tonight though!

Anonymous said...

Re Paxo's dismissive comment, as I recall, the question was about a Scottish royal family that shares its name with an Oxford college and the Cambridge team couldn't guess the name of an Oxford college.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack and Chris

Jack, thanks for the heads up about the article. Oops - its easily done, even if you're careful. Shame that it gave the game away. For me, watching I did sense just before the 20 minute mark that there could just be an upset - it was an exciting match for that reason

Thanks for this Chris - it makes a bit more sense now - I have to admit I didn't make the connection as I watched it.


Des Elmes said...

Jack's absolutely right with the stats - Downing's bonuses let them down a bit.

Here are a few more - Cudmore's five starters took his tally for the series thus far to twelve, while three each for Haddad-Fonda and McComish took them to eight and seven respectively.

This was certainly a good match, and I too was surprised that Downing put up a good fight. I'm afraid to say, though, that I was that bit disappointed by Magdalen.

Given the first-round performances, I honestly expected them to achieve another big win - and they certainly looked on course for that in those first few minutes. I don't think anyone would have thought then that their final score would be less than 200 - and some 40 less than UCL's losing score from last week. They also weren't quite as magnificent on the bonuses as they were against Durham.

But then, most seriously good teams aren't always infallible - Alex Guttenplan's Team lost their opening match, of course, and are thus a classic example. And usually when these teams do get through a tough match, they are indeed all the stronger and better for it - again, Guttenplan and co are a classic example.

So though I wasn't 100% impressed by Magdalen here, I'm definitely not going to write them off just yet.

Next up is another Oxbridge clash, as Merton Oxford take on Queens' Cambridge. Wouldn't surprise me at all if this turned out to be yet another great match.