Thursday, 10 March 2011

University Challenge - Quarter Final play off

Magdalen v. Queens'

Earlier in this set of quarter finals I called the elimination matches the last chance saloon. I’m not sure what I should call these last two matches then. So lets just content ourselves with saying that this was a true knockout match, with the victors going through to the semis, and the vanquished going home on the bus. Magdalen , with James McComish, Kyle Haddad- Fonda, Captain Matthew Chan, and Will Cudmore were one of the Clark tips for a semi final place, beaten in a titanic tussle with Sheffield, but winners over Christ’s Cambridge in their last match. Queens’ , with Mark Jackson, Simon Wallace, captain William Belfield and David Webster lost to Peterhouse having beaten Bristol. The form guide said a victory for Magdalen, but nothing in this world is certain apart from death and taxes.

Queens’ big hitting Mark Jackson miscued the first question. If its about Glencoe then its likely to be either Macdonalds or Campbells. Mark zigged with Macdonalds, Will Cudmore zagged with Campbells. Three bonuses on Thomas More followed, and the Magdalen express had left the station. Nobody fancied the next starter on Bertrand Russell, but William Belfield took the next on Planck’s constant. Queens’ too took a full set of bonuses, on lost villages. Game on. Will Cudmore took his second on the history of MI5, and the team took one more bonus on the sons of Priam – a tough set that , I thought. James McComish took the next starter – something to do with a Japanese hotel according to my notes. Again , a single bonus followed on insects and bugs. Amazingly neither team could take the picture starter to identify Helmut Kohl’s grinning phizzog. Will Cudmore took another starter on the Roundhouse, to earn the picture bonuses. The team identified two out of three heads of former eastern bloc states. The irrepressible Will Cudmore took the next starter as well , recognizing a definition of the word dividend, and all three bonuses were taken on opera houses. When you’re in the zone, even your speculative guesses come good, as Will Cudmore discovered with his next starter, when he seemed rather disbelieving that JP accepted his offer of ‘cyborgs’ in answer to another definition. Magdalen managed one bonus from a set of first lines of famous science fiction novels. At the ten minute mark it was all going according to the script as far as Magdalen were concerned, since they led by 115 to 20.

Mark Jackson found his range with the first starter after the break on hanukkah. One bonus was taken on words from German. Mark followed this up with a second successive starter on the island of Rockall. Only one bonus followed on people with the surname Levi. James McComish replied for Magdalen with the next two starters, which earned bonuses on physics, and on opera , following the music starter. Only one point came out of the six bonuses, but when you’re that far ahead you can afford a little laxity. Matthew Chan kept the Magdalen score ticking along with the next starter on Crohn’s Disease, and for good measure he answered all three questions which followed on the Aztec empire. Kyle Haddad-Fonda now weighed in with his first starter of the night, correctly identifying a caldera as a specific part of a volcano. 3 bonuses followed on large numbers. Matthew Chan took the next starter on Poyning’s Laws, which earned bonuses on Prussian blue, of which they took a brace. It turned out that Mark Jackson starters would bookend this part of the contest, as Mark took a starter to earn pairs of words which are spelled, but not pronounced the same – a good UC set that. At the 20 minute mark it looked all over bar the shouting, as Magdalen led by 210 to 75.

Yet if the first two phases of the contest had belonged to Magdalen, the last certainly belonged to Queens’. Skipper Belfield picked up the next starter on a set of anagrams – rectal, claret and cartel. 3 bonuses were taken on French Departments. Will Cudmore took the next picture starter on Isaac Newton, earning a lovely set of pictures of scientists after whom SI units are named. 1 of these was taken. James McComish knew that Chipping – as in Norton , Sodbury etc. means market. 2 bonuses were taken on the name Aubrey. From then on though, it was all Queens’. Mark Jackson had a brilliant buzz to identify the sum of the first 200 positive integers as 20100. YEESSSS! Interjected a very impressed JP. One bonus was taken on astronomy. Simon Wallace took the next starter on Mexican states. 2 bonuses were taken on African countries. He also took the next starter, knowing that Lassa, as in fever , is in Nigeria. Alas , no bonuses were taken on writing about food. Mark Jackson weighed in with the next, knowing that the alternative to Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking was vertical thinking. Wasn’t he once married to Cher ? Now there’s lateral thinking for you. Back to the show, and Queens’ took all three bonuses on geological time periods. Simon Wallace, the other half of the Queens’ double whammy took the next with endothermic reactions. 2 bonuses followed. Mark Jackson took the next on the Great Glen – they were only fifty points behind now, but Time is a cruel and unforgiving mistress, and the gong announced that , magnificent fightback that it was, it was all too late. Magdalen ran out winners by 245 to 195.

Many congratulations to Magdalen. No team will relish the prospect of playing you in the semis. Congratulations too to Queens’, who staged a terrific comeback in the latter stages of the contest, and can be very proud of their performances in this year’s series.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

There was little in this show to delight the dedicated Paxman watcher. I enjoyed his wry amusement that nobody in either team could recognize Helmut Kohl. Also I liked his rather grudging note of congratulations to Magdalen –
“Well, you won 2 quarter finals – that’s enough. “

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

John Constable made a study of clouds.


Jack said...

Two of my favourite bits of conferring in this episode: Will Cudmore's exclamation of "Yes he did!" when Kyle Haddad-Fonda calimed Stranvinsky didn't do operas, and Mark Jackson's "That was in the Times the others day!".

Not much else I can say about this match, apart from the fact that Queens' have done very well to get this far (all have all the teams this series), and it's a shame to see them leave.

Mark Jackson got six starters this time; his total for the series was a very good 27 over five games. The team made 18/33 bonuses with that one penalty.

Will Cudmore is still on top for Magdalen, getting six starters tonight, while Kyle Haddad-Fonda had a quiet night by his standards, with just the one. 23/39 bonuses was the conversion rate.

Next week, Oxford Brookes vs York. As I said, I have no idea who will win it, though York are looking on good form.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

I know that they will probably hate me for saying this, but I still fancy Oxford Brookes can do it. Mind you Queens' were very good in their last outing, if very reliant on their captain to get the starters.


doublemm said...

Another great Magdalen match! I was very impressed with Queens' in the closing minutes - they managed to buzz in extremely quickly on the "easier" questions, as well as tackling some really tough ones.

Will Cudmore definitely has to be my favourite player of the series.

I did think Brookes would walk next week's match, but York were on strong form and it looks like it'll be yet another close quarter final.

I just hope that Sheffield and Magdalen don't face each other in the semis - that would be a fine final!

Des Elmes said...

Once again, this series of UC produces a great match - and I too can't come up with much to say about it that hasn't already been said.

Except, though, for the events after the gong, which I thought were quite interesting.

Certainly, the teams' reactions surprised me a bit. Queens' would no doubt have felt some disappointment at leaving their comeback just a little too late - yet they seemed pretty upbeat.

Magdalen, on the other hand, looked rather subdued, as if they weren't too happy about what happened in those final few minutes. Even Paxo didn't seem 100% pleased with them when he congratulated them...

Also, did anyone else notice when he went to Magdalen first, and then to Queens', during his sign-off? I say this because he usually goes to the losing team and then the winning team, but here it was the other way around, for some reason...

Oxford Brookes v York tomorrow night is still a tough one to call - but part of me wants Brookes to win, purely because they'll become just the second 1992 university to reach the last four if they do...

And I too would like Magdalen and Sheffield to be in separate semi-finals - they, for me, have been the two best teams this year, and it would be a shame if a second meeting was just for a place in the final, rather than the trophy...

Londinius said...

Hi doublemm and Des

Thanks for your comments. I don't know if it was official policy, or just luck, but last year St. John's and Manchester both made the semis, having met in the quarters, and they did not meet again in the semis. As I say, for all I know that was the luck of the draw. I too hope that Sheffield and Magdalen aren't paired in the same semi . ( Hugh - Tris - after tonight's show, when we know who the 4th semi final team are, could you let us know who you play ? )


Anonymous said...

To avoid spoiling your enjoyment of this evening avoid looking at the BBC UC web site which, in its 'University Challenge episodes coming up' section, also now lists the participants in next week's semi-final. I did e-mail a comment to them but they haven't yet seen fit to amend it. Let's hope they don't do the same for the final!

Quentin Vole said...

Sorry Nick, couldn't resist a peek - and it's still there.

I suppose Ladbroke's are no longer taking bets?

Jack said...

Not the first time the BBC have carelessly given the result away. They did that three times last year.

Still, last time they appeared to have done that, it was a mistake. They said Oxford Brookes would play Bristol the week after Queens' played Bristol, so obviously all who read that were expecting a Bristol win. So we can't always trust these things.

Des Elmes said...

Matthew - no disrespect whatsoever, but nobody likes spoilers...

doublemm said...

I really hope we have not just been given the end result. Is it possible to delete that post?

Jack said...

Agreed Des. They do make it a bit more bearable to watch though, especially in really close matches!

And Matthew, if that is what happens, I think a lot of folk would be cross. I know from past experience you should be careful when talking about the outcome of tournaments that folk have been following closely.

Londinius said...

I have only just today read Matthew's comment - where he seemed to give away the result of the series.

I have no idea whether what he said is true, or whether it was just wishful thinking on his part.

I have removed the post. Matthew - I respectfully remind you that giving away spoilers - telling results in advance is ABSOLUTELY not what my blog is about. If you meant that what you said is just what you hope will hapen - well, you needed to make that clear. If you know the final result, then you have a duty to the fans of the show to not RUIN it for them by telling them in advance.

Please bear this in mind in future.