Friday, 21 October 2011

University Challenge - Repechage Match 2

St. Andrews University v. Worcester College, Oxford

The second of our repechage matches pitted St. Andrews against Worcester College. St. Andrews, represented again by Tomas Volcker, Thomas Lazarides, Dustin Frazier and captain Doug Kennedy had scored 165 when they lost to Merton (that’s the college, not Paul) in match 8. This made them slight underdogs , considering that Dave Knapp, Jack Bramhill, Jonathan Metzer and captain Rebecca Gillie had scored 180 for Worcester in their narrow defeat by Clare ( that’s the college , not Short ) back in match 3. On paper, not a huge amount to choose between the teams.

Thomas Lazarides took the first starter knowing that the plan for European recovery after WWII was named after General George Marshall. This gave St. Andrews a set of bonuses on scientific apparatus. None were taken. Indeed, it was a feature of this particular show that it seemed to me that a large number of bonuses went begging tonight. Maybe I imagined it. Anyway, Dave Knapp, who was to have a pretty good evening, took the first starter for Worcester recognizing a reference to Three Men in a Boat. Worcester then also failed to score on their first set of bonuses, this time on crowns. Thomas Volcker took the next starter on a set of words that all start with the letters – martin -. As if to prove me wrong, they took a full set of bonuses on acronyms with repeated letters – ppp – ddd – uuu but thankfully not kkk. Neither team liked the sound of a starter on trigonometry. Rebecca Gillie knew that the phrase The Primrose Path is found in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Worcester then took their own full set on scallops. The next starter, the first picture, was a UC special, a ‘word cloud’ with key words from a political document, with the most important words jumbled up, and given a size and prominence commensurate with their use within the text. Jonathan Metzer recognized the coalition agreement of 2010, and the team managed two more of the same as bonuses. Mr. Metzer had something of the bit between his teeth, for he took a double with the next starter on Monteverdi. 2 bonuses were taken on pacific islands. The last couple of sets had just seen Worcester starting to move up through the gears, and they led at the ten minute mark by 75 to 35.

Not that St. Andrews were going to make it easy for them. Neither team could take a quotation about the PM and the cabinet, but Dustin Frazier knew that a quotation from The Pilgrim’s Progress was used as the title of one of my favourite novels of all time – Vanity Fair. A bonus followed on eponymous architects. Two starters followed and both went begging. Neither team seemed to quite believe that a pisum sativum could be anything as simple as a pea. Nor did either team know what went to make up the misery index. Still, Jonathan Metzer knew that the world famous Abbey Road Studios are in St. John’s Wood. 2 bonuses on acid were taken. Thomas Lazarides took a good starter on polymers of glucose (believe me, any Science starter anyone manages to take sounds good to me.) 2 bonuses followed on film noir screenplays. With the music starter, Doug Kennedy buzzed in very quickly to identify the dulcet tones of Morrissey. I bet that there were more than a few people playing along at home that beat him to it, though. 1 bonus followed on songs which gave names to bands. The gap was now down to ten points, and the game nicely poised. Skipper Rebecca Gillie put the Worcester express back on the right track with the next starter on Lee Enfield. This gave them a full set of bonuses on pairs of words which differ only by the insertion of a letter T – pin and pint for example. Neither team could take a starter on Gauguin. However Thomas Lazarides showed something of a twitchy buzzer finger when he went early on the next starter, asking for a term to do with wine making, and he paid for it with a 5 point deduction. Jack Bramhill, quiet up to this point, took it with must. 1 bonus followed on poetry. Jack Bramhill went from a single to a double in short order when he knew that red ochre is obtained from haematite. None of a set of bonuses on shared surnames could be taken. That little spurt had taken Worcester away again, and they now led by 145 to 80.

To be in with a shout St. Andrews needed to take the next starter, but it was Dave Knapp who leapt in to link the Tamil Tigers with Sri Lanka. No bonuses could be taken on cities on parallels. Neither team could identify a photo of EM Forster. Jack Bramhill twisted the knife a little further with the next starter, though, buzzing early to say that the NASA Gemini programme was so named because their spacecraft contained two astronauts. Good job they didn’t call it Virgo. I’m so sorry – I can only apologise for that last one. The picture bonuses followed, with photos of other members of the Bloomsbury group. None were taken, but at least it gave us a decent slice of Paxman indignation. More of that later. Another early buzz from St. Andrews saw five points given away, because it happened before JP gave us the key to the question, the name Flinders. This, as Dave Knapp knew, linked us with Australia rather than Canada. 2 bonuses were taken on birds. Jack Bramhill knew a definition of an erg, and two bonuses were snapped up on the works of Schiller. A great early buzz from Dave Knapp identified Cockermouth as the birthplace of Wordsworth, and 3 bonuses on metal meant that Worcester were home and dry. Not that St. Andrews were going down without a fight, for Thomas Volcker took the next starter on a quote from Thoreau. 2 bonuses on people with the name Wilson followed. Dave Knapp took the next on settlements on lake Superior, and a good pair on various treaties of Versailles fell to Worcester. Time was nearly up as Dustin Frazier identified the only Gentile among the Gospel writers as Luke. We only had time for 2 bonuses on an English poet before the gong sounded, giving Worcester a comfortable win by 250 to 110. And I take back what I said about the bonuses, having read back my own notes. I don’t know where I got the impression from.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I’ve often said thought that all you really need to do to press JP’s buttons is to get an English literature question wrong. He was muttering when both teams failed to identify a photo of E.M. Forster – “A man who liked to keep a low profile – evidently successfully. “ He was growling when Worcester identified a picture of Vanessa Bell as Virginia Woolf.”It’s nothing LIKE Virginia Woolf !” - even though it was , a bit. The Bloomsbury set all looked rather like they belonged in a horse breeder’s catalogue. However the piece de resistance came when they identified Lytton Strachey as Lewis Carroll – “Lewis Carroll ??!! Well ! NO !! Very MUCH no !!”

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

The Iron Crown of Lombardy , used for the coronation of Holy Roman Emperors, is kept in a cathedral in Monza.


Des Elmes said...

St Andrews' match against Merton rather turned on an unlucky incorrect interruption to a starter - and, without any disrespect to them whatsoever, one can't help but wonder if the same thing happened here, when Mr Lazarides buzzed too early on that wine-making question.

'Cause it was after that that Worcester pulled right away - I made that eight starters they got without reply, including one before Lazarides' error.

Bit of a shame, really, as I had expected a very close match, and it was certainly that up to and including the music round.

That's not meaning to take anything away from Worcester, though - after all, all four members got at least two starters correct, and Mr Knapp and Mr Bramhill were hugely impressive during that second-half surge.

They finished with five and four starters respectively, while Mr Lazarides, Mr Volker and Mr Frazier all got a brace for St Andrews.

As for the bonuses? Both teams were rather hit-and-miss on them, but answered in the region of half of them correctly: Worcester 22/42, St Andrews 10/20 with two penalties.

Next Monday, the second round gets underway with Clare Cambridge v Leeds. This match also looks like being a close one - but will it be close all the way?

Londinius said...

Hi Des

I know where you're coming from on the early buzz. Personally I'd always rather see someone taking a flyer and going for it, but then the wine one he really went took a gamble on a guess. Things weren't desperate then. On such small things though. I do prefer to see teams going down having had a go, though.

I echo your thoughts about Clare and Leeds.

Jack said...

I enjoyed this match. I agree with Des that 'twas a shame it became a trouncing late on, but both sides should be pleased with their performance.

Next week, Clare vs Leeds. Week after, Newcastle vs Birmingham.