Tuesday, 8 February 2011

University Challenge - Quarter Final Qualification Match 1

Oxford Brookes v. Sheffield

For the second time in this set of quarter final matches two of my four picks for the semis came face to face, Oxford Brookes, and my adopted team for this year, Sheffield. Oxford Brookes have tended to look more and more assured with each match, and the team of Sara Johnson, Austin Sherlaw-Johnson, Richard Williams and captain Anthony McLarin won their first quarter final match against Christ’s Cambridge by a narrow margin, but nonetheless they did it. Sheffield, in the form of LAM readers Andy Bolton, our own Tristan Cole and Hugh Bennett, and captain Tom Thirkell, also had to put on a late , late show in a pulsating match against the impressive Magdalen team, winning on the last starter.

First blood went to Sheffield. Tris leapt straight in, knowing that it was the White Goddess that Robert Graves wrote of. 2 bonuses followed on American humourists. Sheffield made a virtue of sharing the starters around the team tonight, and it was Andy who took the next, recognising a definition of the word minnow. One bonus was taken on notable clubs. I was in the kit kat club once. Every lunchtime we’d club together and buy a kit kat – sorry. Back to the review. Tris took another great starter early, recognising the Christian names of the characters in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, an early buzz which rather left JP taken aback. Again a single bonus was taken, this time on piano instructions. There was a hiatus in Sheffield’s blitz starts for just a moment, as neither side could take the next starter on Geometry. This allowed OB to catch their collective breath, and captain Anthony McLarin buzzed in before JP could complete the official title of the Society of Harmonious Fists, knowing full well that this was in fact the Boxers. 2 bonuses were taken on power series in Mathematics. Our own Hugh Bennett took the next starter, a picture special. It showed, all jumbled up, the words of a famous speech. The more times the word appeared in the speech, the bigger it appeared. Got it ? Hugh did, recognising Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech. Good shout. 3 more of the same followed, and the guys took two of them. Rounding off the first ten minutes Hugh took the next starter for good measure, knowing an area of modern Slovenia when he heard it. After a whirlwind start by Sheffield, they led after 10 minutes by 90 to 20.

The game wasn’t over. Sheffield have carved big leads before, only to see them almost clawed back. This wasn’t going to happen tonight if Andy Bolton had anything to do with it. He recognised a description of red blood cells. Only one bonus followed on jewellery. Austin Sherlaw-Johnson, so impressive in the last couple of matches, miscued on the next, but Sheffield were unable to capitalise. Andy took the next on cartilaginous fish. I’ll have chips with mine please. 2 more bonuses were added to the total. A nice starter came next, where a series of clues to names were given, and then the teams had to supply the letter which both began and ended the name – for example Renoir and Reuter. Austin Sherlaw-Johnson atoned for his previous miscue with this one. Alas, OB couldn’t convert any of the bonuses on particle physics. Neither could I. On the music bonus we heard the sounds of Aretha Franklin , and frankly Tris was lucky not to get a wigging from JP for buzzing early, then pausing before answering. Never mind, he got it right, and a full set of bonuses on singers singing Burt Bacharach songs followed. Sara Johnson then got into the game with her first starter, knowing the word mammon, and two good bonuses on English cities followed . Unlucky for OB that they got Hastings, but not the full Hastings Banda of Malawi. Richard Williams miscued the next, and skipper Tom Thirkell knew it was referring to my Goldsmith’s College contemporary Damien Hirst ( To the best of my knowledge we never met. ) A good full set of bonuses on glaciation were taken. Andy, very impressive again tonight, correctly gave the term implantation for the next starter, and two more bonuses, this time on exploration. Poor old OB found that when things don’t run for you they really don’t run for you. A question was asked obviously referring to Lerner and Loewe. Austin Sherlaw-Johnson buzzed early with Lerner, and lost 5, as he came up as part of the question when it was all given to Sheffield. It was Hugh who answered Loewe, appropriately apologetically I thought. 2 bonuses on paradoxes followed. At the 20 minute mark you have to say that it would have required a greater comeback than Lazarus by OB, as Sheffield led by 215 to 35.

This OB team are far better than the scoreline suggested at this point, and the last third at least went someway towards proving my point. Nobody took the second picture set, which showed a scene from Shakespeare , where Richard the Third is visited by the ghost of Lady Ann. Andy buzzed in on the next knowing that Birds Foot and others are types of delta. Good shout . Sheffield for their pains received the bonus set of pictures of ghosts in Shakespeare, and took Banquo and Hamlet’s dad, but missed Julius Caesar’s. Richard Williams buzzed in with the next knowing that it was William IV who was the last British monarch to – well, it escapes me exactly what it was that he did, but Richard knew, and that’s good enough for me. A nice set of bonuses followed on foreign words which can be made from some or all of the letters in the word sojourn. 2 were taken. Richard Williams had found his range now, and he took the next on Capital Gains Tax. Not that this put Sheffield much off their stride. Tom Thirkell took the next on the Volta effect. Sara Johnson pulled more points back with a starter on the word Sum, so the Sheffield skipper buzzed again for coronary arteries on the next. OB saw out the match with skipper Anthony McLarin, and then Austin Sherlaw-Johnson taking the last two starters, but in the end it was an emphatic victory for Sheffield. Well done ! Into the semis now, and still with every chance of going all the way. As for OB – nil desperandum. You were comprehensively beaten to the buzzer tonight, but you still have everything to play for.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Little of note in this show. I did rather enjoy the way that he muttered “You knew those alright, then. “ when Sheffield took the full set of bonuses on the Bacharach songs.

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

The word pal actually comes from the Romany, or Roma word for brother.


Jack said...

Shame. I was prepared for another good match, and I was slightly surprised Sheffield had it so easy. I think JP might have jinxed Oxford Brookes by saying no post '92 uni has ever won UC!

Seriously, though, another great performance from Sheffield, with Andy Bolton getting five starters, leading to 25/42 bonuses. All four Oxford Brookes players got two starters, the side made 14/24 bonuses with three penalties.

It would be a massive shame if Oxford Brookes didn't make the semis now. They're a good team, and certainly didn't deserve to lose by the margin it looked like they would at the second picture round.

I also wonder if anyone noticed JP calling Sheffield 'Oxford Brookes' during the first picture round!

Very well done to Hugh, Tris, Andy and Tom. You're a great team who thoroughly deserve to make the semis.

Next week, Christ's take on Magdalen. I wouldn't be surprised if we get another classic match there! But we'll see.

stephen said...

I was intrigued by the fact that the word tawdry is derived from "Saint Audrey's Fair" in Ely. Grand ol' language, English is...

Des Elmes said...

I too didn't expect Sheffield to dominate proceedings up to the second picture round - though Oxford Brookes certainly didn't shame themselves.

Further to Jack's stats, Tris, Hugh and Tom all got three starters each to go with Andy's five. Tris thus moves ahead of Peterhouse's Ben Slingo in the race to be the best buzzer for the series, up now to 23 starters; Andy has 16 and Hugh 14.

Technically, Sarah Johnson and Anthony McLarin were Brookes' best buzzers, by virtue of incurring none of the side's three penalties. Miss Johnson remains comfortably ahead as the team's best buzzer overall, with 17 starters (not counting the tie-break against Cardiff).

Another interesting stat is that Sheffield have incurred only one penalty up to this point, which is very impressive.

Hope I'm not about to put a curse on them here - but I'm making them favourites to win the series now, following this performance and those two epic affairs against UCL and Magdalen.

I agree with Jack, though, that it would be a massive shame if Brookes failed to become just the second 1992 uni to reach the last four. However, going by the way the QFs were done last year, I reckon they're set to take on the winners of York v Bristol - and IMHO it would be a surprise if they lost to either.

Londinius said...

Hi Stephen

That actually would have been my fact of the week - apart from the point that I did already know it - I can thank Mr. Warden of my Primary school back in the 70s for that !

Hi Jack and Des

Thanks for your impressive stats as always. I have to say that I haven't said more than I already have about Sheffield simply because I do not want to jinx them. Lets put it this way - they need fear nobody now, even though there is still alot of play left in this series.

If you're right about the elimination match, Des, then OB have a fine chance of going through still, which is how it should be.


Matt Westwood said...

Is Hugh Bennett the son of Tim "Bouncer" Bennett? I used to go to school with the latter, and South Gloucestershire it was. If so he's the very spit.

HughTube said...

I was interested to see this match because I was feeling awful when it was filmed, I must have been poisoned at lunch. At first viewing I thought we were poor and couldn't understand how we won, on second viewing though I saw the others did well and I was just me who was rubbish. I was waiting to the ends of the questions rather than interrupting which meant a whole load more biology questions passed me by so I will be further ridiculed in my department!

The calling us Oxford Brookes caused a bit of a kerfuffle and had to be filmed again, so I was a little surprised to see it included.

Thanks for the nice comments.

And I'm in no way related to anyone called Tim.

Unknown said...

Well, as a former Sheffield Graduate who never got the chance to on UC (it had been dropped in 1987) I only hope Sheffield don't blow it in the Fianl where, I'm sure, they will again meet Magdalen College, Oxford, as they did in (I think) 2007 when they narrowly lost to Christ Church, Oxford (much to JP's relief: he loathes redbrick Universities).

Well done lads! Only two more victories and then you can rest on your laurels.