Thursday, 17 February 2011

University Challenge Quarter Final Elimination Match

Christ’s, Cambridge v. Magdalen, Oxford

Last week we saw the first qualification match which saw our own Sheffield team progress through to the semis. On Monday night we saw the reverse of that particular coin, with the first elimination match. Neither of the two teams involved would automatically progress to the semis, but one of them would definitely be eliminated. So, drinking in this veritable last chance saloon we had Christ’s Cambridge, and Magdalen Oxford. You have to say that it looked a big ask for a good Christ’s team, but then we have seen upsets before. Playing for Christ’s were Jack Belloli, Joe Walmswell, Alexander Greaves, and captain Natasha Simonova. Magdalen too fielded an unchanged team in the shape of James McComish, Kyle Haddad-Fonda, Will Cudmore and skipper Matthew Chan.

Magdalen started as they meant to go on, with a timely buzz from Kyle Haddad-Fonda for the first starter, knowing that it was Mahatma Ghandi who was being described. 3 out of 3 bonuses on Europe were taken. Mr. Haddad-Fonda took the next for good measure, knowing that the various definitions he was being offered all referred to the word horn. We saw an early appearance of a UC special set of bonuses, which asked for pairs of words which only differed with the use of an acute accent. Made no difference to Magdalen as they took all three of them. Will Cudmore knew that the original meaning of the word symposium was something to do with getting sloshed – or something like that – and Magdalen had so far answered every single question correctly. They only managed 2 on Royal offspring, but this was no sign that the wheels were about to come off the runaway express train which was the Magdalen team at this stage. James McComish knew that if the question mentions style of dress, and the French Revolution, then sans-culottes is going to be a pretty good bet, and another full set of bonuses were taken on chromosomes. You have to say that Magdalen looked a million dollars – Australian or US dollars depending on whether you favour Mr. McComish or Mr. Haddad-Fonda – at this stage . Will Cudmore took a good starter which required the answer Francis Bacon – more of that later, and added a couple more bonuses, and then James McComish took his second knowing that the Temple of Artemis was the one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World that was situated at Ephesus. Only one starter remained before the ten minute mark, and Joe Walmswell of Christ’s made sure that this opening period wasn’t a complete shut – out by recognising a quotation about NATO. 1 bonus was taken on the naturist – sorry, that should read naturalist – Père David. After a breathtaking opening by Magdalen they led by 140 to 15.

As he had done in the first part of the competition, Kyle Haddad-Fonda took the first starter in this middle part, on Wavelength. Finally Magdalen showed some weakness by failing to take any of the bonuses on hydroscopic materials. Not surprised either. Will Cudmore knew the paternoster elevator, and normal service was resumed as Magdalen took all three bonuses on Antarctica. Maybe it was me, but it seemed curiously ironic that it was at this point that Natasha Simonova took a starter on The Slough of Despond. You couldn’t have blamed Christ’s for feeling at that point as if that was an accurate description of their position. Note this – they weren’t playing badly , but they couldn’t get to the buzzer quickly enough. Still, this starter at least edged up the score. Nobody fancied the music starter on Johann Strauss the second, but then we saw a relative rarity. Skipper Matthew Chan of Magdalen has, lets face it, been overshadowed by the exploits of his three team mates, but with the next starter he leapt like a salmon to the buzzer, and supplied the correct answer of Schiller. One of the ensuing music bonuses followed. Christ’s managed the next two starters – with Joe Walmswell getting corpuscles, and Jack Belloli getting Fantastic Mr. Fox. Only 1 bonus on physics was taken, and none of a set on Charlie Chaplin . Neither teams knew that sarcoptic itch had anything to do with scabies, which I always thought was the surname of the lead singer of the Damned, but I digress. This question actually saw a Haddad-Fonda miscue. However Will Cudmore took the next, and Kyle Haddad-Fonda the next after that. Incidentally, this brought them two more 6 point hauls on the bonuses. In many ways this was the most impressive aspect of Magdalen’s performance. They were hot on the buzzer, but also very hot on converting bonuses. Which is the mark of a very successful team, as we know. With ten minutes remaining the contest was all over as a contest, with Magdalen leading by 235 to 50.

Will Cudmore took the second picture starter, identifying a picture of Genghis Khan. They only took one of the bonuses – I was pleased with myself for getting Vlad the Impaler. Next followed an unfortunate miscue from Kyle Haddad-Fonda. He knew that the US continental congress met in Philadelphia. However , when the full question was asked, it was the state required, not the city, and skipper Natasha Simonova gratefully accepted the windfall. 2 bonuses on Pollys in literature were taken. No matter, since Kyle took the next starter anyway, on towers. Alexander Greaves took some more points for Christ’s with the next starter. By his usual standards James McComish had had a relatively quiet contest, and he made some amends by taking the next on the Isles of Arran. 2 bonuses followed. Will Cudmore took a quick buzz on Les Miserables, and Kyle Haddad-Fonda took Magdalen’s last of the contest on Keppler. I always liked his sand dance with Wilson and Betty. As a consolation Christ’s Simonova and Greaves managed the last two starters, and the score at the end was an emphatic 330 – 120 win for Magdalen. Bad luck Christ’s, but you were playing one of the very finest sides in the whole of this year’s competition. As for Magdalen, I think that the semis are beckoning.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Very little to report from this show. He seemed extremely amused by Fantastic Mr. Fox – is he a closet Roald Dahl fan ? - and at least did manage one bellow towards Christ’s of “No You May NOT CONFER !” on the scabies mite question.

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

2 to choose from here. The design for the alien which bursts from John Hurt’s chest in Alien was partly inspired by a painting by Francis Bacon.Also the Helm is the only named wind in the British Isles.


Jack said...

Oh dear, that was a bit of a whitewash! Still, at least Christ's got Fantastic Mr Fox!

To be honest though, the match was over before it had evan began. When Magdalen lead 140-0, I think we all knew the winners.

And, at last, Matthew Chan gets his first starter of the series! Well done to him, and to Will Cudmore, who got seven, upping his series total to 21. The side went 34/51 bonues with two penalties. Natasha Simonova got three for Christ's, finishing the series with a total of 14 over four games. The side made just 8/24 bonuses.

To be honest, I think Christ's flattered to deceive, as they did so well in Round 1, and never really followed that up. Maybe it was just nerves. We'll never know.

Well done to Magdalen, though. Surely, if they play like that next time, they'll be in the semis. Peterhouse vs Queens' next week. Should be a Peterhouse win unless Mark Jackson is on form. We'll see.

HughTube said...

I'm glad we weren't in that match! Very impressive indeed.

Feel sorry for Christ's, they beat a tricky Edinburgh only to then have Oxford Brookes and Magdalen, all three having scored over 300 before. I have to think they'd have done better in the other half of the draw.

Matthew Chan is in some ways disadvantaged by being on such a good team and therefore having a higher level of competition than most each match. He is an excellent quizzer as proven by his performances at various Oxford tournaments. My own personal excuse for not getting more than I did is that I had some quick players on my team.

Also, am I right in thinking corpuscles has been the answer on successive Mastermind, BoB and UC episodes? I don't think I got in any of them.

doublemm said...

Even if this one was a bit one-sided I still enjoyed every minute! It's so impressive how early the Magdalen lads buzz in, and how many of their bonuses they convert. It's strange to think that they could have won by a greater margin had they *not* known as much (referring to Kyle's Philadelphia question).

I can't see Queen's beating the Peterhouse team, but I shall have to wait and see.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack, Hugh and doubleMM,

Thanks for the stats Jack. Hugh, you're right about corpuscles - I did notice that myself. Take your point about Matthew Chan. The format of UC means that the eye is naturally caught by the quickest players on the buzzer, and its often very difficult to see who is doing the hard graft in supplying the bulk of your bonuses. Take your point about Queens' and Peterhouse doubleMM, but I'm going to sit on the fence with this one, if you don't mind.


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