Saturday, 22 January 2011

University Challenge - Quarter final match 2 - York v. Peterhouse

You don’t want to hear about my problems, I’m sure. You do ? Alright – bust computer, knackered email account, busiest time of the year at work. Sorry that you asked now, I bet. But seriously folks, we have a lot to catch up on. So let us begin with the Challenge.

Neither of the teams in Monday’s match were among my favourites for the semis, yet you couldn’t claim that either of them were rank outsiders either. Both of them had rather similar records in terms of points scored in the series. Both of them had victories over Exeter under their belts as well. York were represented by Chris Caudwell, Ben Keane, Simon Donnelly and captain Andrew Clemo. Peterhouse were represented by Edward Tait, Ben Slingo, Christopher Stanton and captain Louise Howes.

As has been customary in his matches so far Ben Slingo was in for the first starter. Two bonuses followed on extinct birds. Chris Caudwell hit back with ‘kitchen sink’ as the two word phrase referring to a gritty , realistic genre of literature and art. York failed to take any of their set of bonuses on poetry. We’ve already noted this series that with these close matches it is absolutely vital to make the most of your bonuses. Ben Slingo took a good buzz on the next starter , but this time it was Peterhouse that failed to convert the bonuses into points. Chris Caudwell was quick on the buzzer again with the next question, but it proved to be a miscue, and it was Edward Tait who correctly identified the condition in question as haemophilia. A good set of bonuses on paintings in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art helped to increase the lead. 2 bonuses were taken on Milennium Prize Problems. My problem was I didn’t have a clue what the Milennium Prize was all about, but that was not an issue for Peterhouse, who managed 2 of them. Simon Donnelly pegged back the gap a little by identifying a question referring to the two Eddas of Icelandic literature – a little more about that question later. 2 bonuses on US presidents helped York’s cause even more. When Ben Slingo miscued the next question, it meant hat the score at the 10 minute mark was 45 points apiece.

The next starter saw captain Andrew Clemo miscue when asked for a painter, but Ben Slingo supplied the correct answer – Rubens, to take the points and earn a set of bonuses on wasted time. 2 were taken. Edward Tait knew that the next starter was referring to neutrinos, but Peterhouse didn’t do any better with poetry bonuses than York had fared with theirs earlier on. There was no need to panic for York – not yet anyway, but they weren’t timing their buzzer runs right at this part of the contest, as there was another miscue, this time from Simon Donnelly, which handed Christopher Stanton some points on Shakespeare’s Henry V. One bonus on cells was taken. Neither team knew their Tchaikovsky well enough to take the music starter, so the bonuses were held back for the next. Chris Caudwell earned them for knowing that the car manufacturer being called for with the next starter was John deLorean. 2 bonuses followed. Neither team knew that the outermost layer of the atmosphere is the exosphere. One of those things you either do or you don’t, I’d say. Ben Slingo took the next starter on a set of people with the surname Jones. Then Edward Tait completed what was almost, although not quite a complete shut out of the beleagured York team by identifying Leek for the next starter. At the 20 minute mark Peterhouse weren’t just in the driving seat – with 150 to 60 they were occupying the passenger seat, the back seat and half of the boot space as well.

Not that the game was over yet. We’ve seen how quickly points can be scored when one team gets on a roll. York really needed to get their mitts on a starter, though, and it was Christopher Stanton of Peterhouse who took the next, recognising the description of a graphic novel called Laika. Picture bonuses on depictions of Lady Macbeth followed . Did you know what her dog was called ? No ? It was Spot . (‘Out, out, damned spot ‘ ) Sorry about that. The boys on the Peterhouse side were enjoying the starters so much that captain Louise Howes decided to grab the next for herself, and she answered my favourite question of the night. Which word is spelled out by a combination of the chemical symbols for Iron, astatine etc. It was feathers. Only on University Challenge. Game over now ? Perhaps not. Ben Slingo opened the door slightly by miscuing the next starter to allow skipper Andrew Clemo in to identify Spencer Perceval – you know him – famous for being shot and not a lot else. 2 bonuses were taken, and then the skipper took his second starter in a row , recognising the surname Herzog as belonging to a Saul Bellow hero amongst others. 2 bonuses were taken. Still captain Louis Howes put the brakes on the York revival with a remarkably good early buzz on a number starter , correctly providing the number 6 as required. Again, a little more about that later on. Ben Keane took the next starter on Ethiopia, but it was too little too late, and indeed , the gong sounded before the next set were completed. Final score - a win for Peterhouse by 205 to 120.

York aren’t out of it, but you have to say that they look very vulnerable at the moment. Sorry about that , York. Peterhouse have a win under their belt, so their chances have to be taken seriously.

Jeremy Paxman Watch
A spectacularly old fashioned look was bestowed on the hapless buzzer who suggested that the painting of Lady Macbeth showed a scene from King Lear. I’ve said it before , and I’ll say it again, JP HATES it when you get a Shakespeare question wrong.

On the other hand though he was mightily impressed with Louise Howes’ second starter answer . “How on earth did you get that when I hadn’t even finished asking the question ? !” – Its called anticipation, Jez.

Interesting Question That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
As part of my English literature degree I studied Old Icelandic Literature ( don’t ask ) – but I had no idea that the word Edda derives from the Icelandic word for Grandmother.


Jack said...

I sympathise with you Dave. It's not easy getting back into the swing of things after a long holiday.

I expected this to be a close match, with Peterhouse just having the edge. And that's what we got.

Both teams impressed on the bonuses: York made 13/21, Peterhouse made 18/38. Andrew Clemo got three for York; Edward Tait and Ben Slingo got three each for Peterhouse, though Mr Slingo also got two penalties.

And Miss Howes's brilliant intervention on the perfect numbers starter didn't half remind me of Starter For Ten! When Brian checks the cards beforehand! One wonders if Miss Howes has been up to something similar!

Andrew B. said...

It was a nice "rabbit in the headlights moment" when Louise Howes realised she'd buzzed at the wrong moment, before she had her inspired guess of 6.

HughTube said...

I'm she pleased she went for it, one of the best buzzes of the series. Peterhouse have had a lot of early risky buzzes throughout the series, it's meant they've had some great, interruptions but the occasional penalty.

Des Elmes said...

A slight correction Jack: Tait and Slingo got four starters each, not three.

Everyone on the York team got at least one starter correct, but every Peterhouse player got at least two; both teams incurred three penalties.

Slingo may not have been quite as hot on the buzzers as in previous matches, but he still overtakes Exeter's Tim Abbott as the best buzzer for the series thus far, with 21 starters. Clemo, meanwhile, has 16 for York.

Des Elmes said...

As for my view of this match? Without any disrespect to Peterhouse whatsoever, I honestly thought that the outcome would depend to some extent on whether or not they had recovered after that unbelievable Cambridge derby against St John's.

Clearly they had, as they were never headed, and never looked particularly worried. If they hadn't (and that does happen sometimes), that could have spelled trouble.

And Howes' brilliant interruption is up there with Daniel Spencer's "Descartes" last year among the very best.

So, Peterhouse will take on Oxford Brookes for a place in the semis, while York will battle it out with Christ's Cambridge to avoid elimination. Both these matches should be very good.

And so should next Monday's match: Sheffield v Magdalen Oxford. It is a shame, though, that these two juggernauts should meet at this stage of the series...

Jack said...

Oops! Thanks Des! I did know that, but I must have typed the wrong thing!

HughTube said...

It looks like I inadvertently performed an experiment about the effects of a Rob Roy on punctuation

Des, I don't know about Peterhouse but we had three or four months between our second round and quarter final matches, plenty of time to recover! Peterhouse may not have had the same schedule but I don't think anyone played those two rounds close together.

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