King's,Cambridge v. Queen's, Oxford
I don’t blame you if you’re feeling neglected, honestly I don’t. I really can’t say that much in my defense, other than it has been a very busy week, of which more later, and I had to choose between catching up on planning and marking, or putting the blog first. I know, even I get it wrong sometimes. Still, here we are again, and let me at least try to start making amends.
On with the show then. The producers put together an interestingly symmetrical show on Monday. On one side, King’s Cambridge , and on the other Queen’s Oxford. King’s were represented by Andrew Tindall, Bryoney Bates, Phil Davies and captain Joshua Newton. Queen’s ( and J.P. made a point of reminding us that properly speaking it should be The Queen’s ) team consisted of Peter Sloman, James Kane, Layla Hill, and their skipper, Matthew White.
The first question asked for a linking phrase, and it was first Lady, as James Kane well knew. The first set of bonuses on sporting venues were all gladly accepted. Not to be outdone King’s got off the mark themselves with the next starter, as Phil Davies answered that the word atmosphere was originally erroneously applied to the moon. One bonus was taken on National Nature reserves. Peter Sloman gratefully supplied us with the title “The Wisdom of Crowds to give Queen’s their second starter, and this brought up a tricky set on locations in novels of the 20th century. I had the first, but that was it for me. Layla Hill leapt in to provide us with the S.I. Unit the Becquerel. Already 3 members of the Queen’s team had correctly answered a starter, and skipper White wouldn’t be too long in joining them For now, though the team took a bonus on Medicine. This brought up the picture starter, and the captain of Queen’s buzzed in first to identify the volcano shown on a map as Mount St. Helens. More of the same followed as bonuses, and Queen’s took 2 of them. Matthew White was on a roll, and took the next starter on a quotation relating to the potato. A full set of bonuses followed on American Universities. Byrony Bates struck back for King’s with the writer Montaigne, and a good full set on JM Keynes reduced arrears so that the score at the 10 minute mark was 100 to Queen’s , to 40 for King’s.
This gap was further reduced when Bryony Bates answered a UC special for the next starter, recognizing that hermaphrodite comes from the deities Hermes and Aphrodite. 2 bonuses were managed on pairs of similar sounding ancient greek names – eg, Hero and Hera. Nobody fancied the next starter on Biology, but James Kane knew that James Scott was connected with the welsh town of Monmouth, being the famous duke thereof. A full set was taken on linear algebra. I don’t know what the bonus conversion rate was for this show, but I bet it was quite high. A great question on Shelley’s poem Ozymandias was answered by Phil Davies for the next starter. Again, a full set of bonuses was taken, with words containing all 5 vowels. The music starter saw the teams asked to identify who was singing Ave Maria. Matthew White offered Pavarotti, correctly. However the team were unable to identify any of the other three singers of versions of the song which we heard. A good starter followed for James Kane, who knew that the word Oriental is part of the full name of Uruguay. Queen’s were on a roll now, as Layla Hill took the next starter on the term degenerate as it applies in quantum physics. No, I don’t either. The next starter, on the musical term scordatura stumped both teams, but Peter Sloman knew that Lord Liverpool’s ministry lasted through from 1812 for the next few years. 2 bonuses on dates in novels gave Queen’s a healthy, and frankly , winning lead of 195 to 80.
The question of the week followed. The teams were shown a kiwi fruit, and then invited to spell out the four letters of its name using the names of the elements which the letters symbolize – K = potassium etc. Sounds complicated ? It is, but Layla Hill took it, and then working feverishly as a team Queen’s took 3 more of the same. Not 4 letter ones either ! Watercress and cauliflower were in there too ! I think that this took too much out of them , mind you, since neither team could answer either of the next two starters. Layla Hill, who missed nothing on Science all night, or so it seemed to me, knew all about how many of a male’s descendants would inherit his Y chromosome – or something like that. 2 more starters went begging. The second of these was a really good question, asking about which three countries have the longest borders with EU countries. Norway and Russia came to me, but amazingly Switzerland didn’t. Anyway, back to the show. Queen’s took another science starter, and amazed JP by getting two out of three bonuses on knitting right. Phil Davies managed a final flourish for King’s , knowing that BV in Dutch is the equivalent of e.g. in English. 2 bonuses followed on genetic engineering. Peter Sloman knew that the thing that Nils Bohr says is terrible difficult to predict Is the future. Time enough for 2 bonuses on codes, but that was it. Queen’s won by 280 to 95.
I take slight issue with JP on his comment that King’s had no chance to show us what they could do. They were comprehensively beaten on the buzzer, yes, but you could see enough to see that their modest score is surely not an accurate reflection of their ability. It happens. Certainly no need to take what JP called ‘the slow bus of shame back to the campus”.
As for Queen’s – well at one stage they looked very good for a 300 plus score. Even though they didn’t quite manage that, I thought that they were very good value for their win. They have a team – as I was watching I had the distinct feeling that this is a quiz team, who function as a team and not just 4 talented individuals. There’s a lovely balance in this team. I’m not going to scupper their chances by making any predictions right now, but I think that Queen’s could go far this year.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
JP is a Cambridge man himself, so it was nice to see him enjoying a bit of a rapport with the Oxford side, Queen’s, especially over the fruit n’ elements questions. His high pitched “Well done !” when Layla Hill answered the kiwi fruit question was genuine.
When Matthew White offered Pavarotti, JP replied “ If that was a guess it was a good one. “ Well, any guess that is right is a good one. But its also a percentage answer. Even now, several years after he passed away, Pavarotti is still a good cold answer to an opera question when you haven’t got a Scooby.
Interesting Fact Of The Week That I Didn’t Already Know
Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote ‘Ozymandias’ in competition with his fellow poet Horace Scott. JP only recited the first part of Scott’s own poem . It wasn’t McGonagall, but it would never have made the top 40.