Tuesday, 12 July 2011

University Challenge - First Round Heat 2

Round One – Heat 2 – Trinity Cambridge v. University of Birmingham

We’re off and running now, ladies and gents. Already we’re into the second heat of the series, this time pitting Trinity , Cambridge against the University of Birmingham. Trinity , who were series champions in both 1974 and 1995, boasted an average age of 20 – well, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. The team consisted of Max Spencer, Lee Zhao, Joshua Caplan and captain Rosalind Lintott. Their opponents, Birmingham had an average age of 21. The team were made up of Thomas Farrell, Kirk Surgener, Eliott Rhodes, and captain Oliver Jeacock. I was intrigued by JP’s throwaway remark that Birmingham chose their captain via a game of rock, paper scissors. I always wondered whether the programme makers actually decided who would be the captain, so I guess that answers that question. On with the show.

Kirk Surgener leapt in to dispatch a very gentle delivery – which mountain range separates Europe from Asia – to the boundary. This brought up a set of bonuses on high stones. I knew the one they didn’t, that the Preseli Hills were the source of the bluestones of Stonehenge. Still, a starter and 2 bonuses made a good start for Birmingham. Lee Zhao brought Trinity’s first points on Mozart, and this brought up a set on high profile resignations of chairmen and chief executives. One bonus was taken. Thomas Farrell took Birmingham’s next, knowing that graphite was found in the Lake District and subsequently used in pencils. They have a pencil museum up there, you know. I digress. A lovely set of bonuses followed on other writer’s opinions about Shakespeare, of which 1 was taken. A good early buzz from captain Oliver Jeacock, who knew that the great scientist guillotined during the French Revolution was Lavoisier saw Birmingham extend their lead, although a very tricky set of bonuses on spirals eluded them. This then brought up the first picture starter. Shown a picture of part of a map with a river one it, nobody could identify the river correctly. I won’t lie, I didn’t have it. Like one of the teams I thought Canada, but I didn’t have the Mackenzie River, which was the right answer. So another starter was asked which led to Kirk Surgener to buzz early and correctly identify the Peter Principle. The river pictures followed – each river bucking the trend , so to speak, by flowing to the North. 2 were taken. It was becoming one way traffic , and so it fell to captain Rosalind Lintott to pick out the answer to a University Challenge special, requiring three rhyming answers, which I believe were trump – pump – frump. 1 bonus was taken on women from ancient history. Still, notwithstanding this it was clear by the 10 minute mark that Birmingham were having by far the better of the opening skirmishes, and up to this time were winning the battle of the buzzers.

Eliott Rhodes pitched in with his first starter of the night, recognizing that two philosophers being alluded to were Plato and Aristotle. Good shout. 2 bonuses followed on David Hockney. Neither team could manage the next starter, which referred to Muscadet. This then allowed Max Spencer to strike back for Trinity, knowing well that the araucaria tree is more commonly known as the monkey puzzle. Alas, they failed to score on a set of bonuses on popular culture from the noughties, which required them to name the year when a specific set of events happened – a notoriously tricky thing to do. Eliott Rhodes put Birmingham back on the march again, identifying a snatch of Rimsky Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. Three bonuses on other pieces of classical music followed, and just like Birmingham , all that I could manage to identify was a few bars from the opera Madame Butterfly. Lee Zhao buzzed early on the next question, and I don’t blame himat all. If you’re playing catch up you’re better off being hung for a sheep than a lamb, I always think. Still, his answer of New Deal was one he wouldn’t have given if he’d had the whole question. He’d have known, as did Kirk Surgener that we were dealing with the Lindbergh Law. Bonuses on chemistry proved hard to come by, but then when you’re ahead, and you’re hot on the buzzer, then that doesn’t seem to matter so much, somehow. A great early buzz from Kirk Surgener for the next bonus saw him correctly identify a definition of Nitrogen Fixing. 3 bonuses on language in the works of Tolkein followed. They missed them, but a correct answer, Finnish, was mulled over, before being rejected for a wrong one, Hungarian. Ah, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Once again, just as I was about to look at the scores again, Trinity narrowed the gap slightly when Lee Zhao took a starter on Thomas Tallis. A set of University Challenge specials followed on cognate anagrams. These are those anagrams which are also linked in terms of meaning or context – for example moonstarer and astronomer. Trinity did well to get two. So just on the 20 minute mark, they lagged by 65 to Birmingham’s 135.

Was a fightback and a close finish out of the question ? Well, no, it wasn’t. Birmingham were hotter on the buzzer, but they were being fairly profligate with the bonuses, and a burst of three or four converted starters could bring Trinity right back. Well, neither team managed the next starter , on the G20 countries in Latin America. However Joshua Caplan did manage to get the next starter, with the term peristalsis. Alas, once again they had no luck with the bonuses, and a full set on terms from the social services went begging. The second picture starter this time revealed a picture of comedian Russell Kane, and Eliott Rhodes nipped straight in to take the points, thank you very much. The bonuses showed pictures of other winners of what used to be the Perrier award at the Edinburgh festival, and they had to identify the comedian, and the decade in which they won. Two were taken, and that gap was beginning to look ominously like the one crossed by the new sea bridge opened in China recently. Neither team recognized a description of the Old Man of Hoy for the next starter, and so skipper Rosalind Lintott took the next which referred to various definitions of the word hector. 2 more bonuses were taken on the events of 1511. ( and you know, some of us still remember . . . sorry, I was channeling Rowan Atkinson there for a moment. ) As we moved into the last couple of minutes the mightily impressive Kurt Surgener reasserted his own and his team’s superiority by answering that the painter required for the starter was Mark Rothko. To rub it in the team took a full set of bonuses on botany. Finishing with a flourish, Mr. Surgener also identified the country of West Germany, or the Federal Republic thereof, for a set of bonuses on islands. Undaunted , Joshua Caplan fought a valiant rearguard action with a good answer on orthographic precipitation. A bonus was taken on places in Derby. Kurt Surgener – who else – took the next starter with an early buzz to identify Amsterdam. This brought up questions on classical music cataloguers, and I thought they did well to take a couple. Finally, time for one last starter, and almost inevitably it was Kurt Surgener who knew that it referred to Virginia Woolf. That brought up the gong, with the final score at 225 to Birmingham, and 105 to Trinity. I’m glad that Trinity managed triple figures. I think they deserved that. Meanwhile well done to Birmingham, they look a decent team, if a little too profligate with bonuses, and have, in Kurt Surgener, someone who looks to be an impressive player.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP in avuncular mood for the second show running. Rather disappointing if truth be told. Still we had just a glimpse of what will hopefully be in store for later in the series when Birmingham offered the Mendips as the source of the Stonehenge bluestones –
“ Mendips ? In Wales ? !” he began, but then he spoiled it by chuckling indulgently. I’m a little worried too by the way that he accepted “A big Splash” for the title of the famous Hockney painting, while gently admonishing them that the correct title is in fact “A Bigger Splash”. Actually, on a more serious note there was a relatively interesting article in last week’s Radio Times , where JP was ‘interviewed’ by Anne Widdecombe. According ot one of his answers, he always wants to err on the side of generosity towards the teams, but it’s the producer who has the final word, and the producer is usually quite mean.

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

Both Mexico and Argentina are in the G20


DanielFullard said...

Glad Birmingham won and "Sprunger" I think it was played very well.....and lovely question about my home town too (Peterlee)

joe said...

"Cognate Anagrams - These are those anagrams which are also linked in terms of meaning or context – for example moonstarer and astronomer".

All very well except that there is no such word as 'moonstarer', is there?

Anonymous said...

Eliott Rhodes here saying thanks for the rousing report! I stumbled upon it googling my name with friends. Glad to see so many passionate people about tv quizzes.

Paxo is a great guy, I think he's just a dick to politicians who have it coming. OR people who don't answer as soon as they buzz.