Friday, 14 October 2011

University Challenge - Repechage Round - 1

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine v. Homerton Cambridge

Here we are then, at the repechage stage, and I haven’t even done my review of the first round. I can only apologise, and once again plead pressure of work. Still, enough of such excuses, and let’s get on with the show. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, hereafter referred to as LSH for the sake of brevity, scored 155 when losing to a good team from Nottingham. Once again the team were John Bradley, Grace Eckhoff, Michael Wallace and Martin Harker the captain. Homerton, on the other hand, played in the best match of the first round when they lost out to Balliol College, Oxford by a mere 5 points, scoring 200 themselves. You might remember that one as the match with the great flag controversy. Homerton fielded an unchanged team of Jack Euesden, Frances Conner, Thomas Grinyer and captain David Murray.

It was the Homerton skipper who struck first, knowing that a list of definitions all referred to things that can be called ‘soft’. 2 bonuses on the Thames in literature followed. David Murray wasn’t messing about in this show, and he took the next starter knowing that a historian writing about sitting around in Rome in the 1760s was probably Edward Gibbon. So it was. Homerton took 2 bonuses on Norse history. Neither team could take a starter on Keats’ Grecian Urn, which prompted the best JP moment of the show – more about that later on. Martin Harker played a captain’s innings for LSH by buzzing in for his team’s first starter after this, knowing that John Newland made a version of the Periodic Table of Elements. LSH managed a bonus on UN peacekeeping forces. Neither team knew that the oldest university of the Netherlands is Leyden. Thomas Grinyer, influential for Homerton in their first match, buzzed in with the answer that 1 number between 1 and 10 is spelled the same in French and English, that being six. A full set of bonuses on a German chemist were taken. Neither team fancied the picture starter, which displayed an economic diagram. John Bradley earned the bonuses of more of the same by taking the next starter, knowing Popper when he was being referred to. However they couldn’t take any of the bonuses. This meant that at the ten minute mark the scores stood at 65 to Homerton, and 25 to the LSH.

So much seemed according to the script, bearing in mind the two teams’ relative first round performances. LSH are a fairly resilient bunch though, and skipper Martin Harker cut the deficit by taking the next starter by identifying a definition of anaphylactic shock. A bonus followed on old Greeks whose names began with Aris - . Captain David Murray – probably the pick of the players in this match – kept a cool head, and knew that Galileo had taught at the University of Padua. One bonus followed on politics in the UK in the 19th century. Neither team knew a law stated by Coulomb, and unfortunately LSH buzzed too early and lost five at a time when they really couldn’t afford to. I don’t blame them for going for it for one minute. It’s better to be hung for a sheep than – well, you get the point. John Bradley knew all about the Sandinistas, and this earned a great little full set of bonuses on eye rhymes – words which look like they should rhyme but don’t, for example lasagne and champagne. David Murray helped himself to the music starter, recognising a wee Mozart number from The Magic Flute. The team couldn’t say which characters from Mozart were singing the next three arias for the bonuses. Not easy, although they nearly had Leporello. Frances Conner took the next bonuses, knowing that Napoleon’s army were the first to use ambulances. They didn’t manage any of the bonuses on Geography, but since they were pulling ahead, and taking the starters, it didn’t seem to matter that much. Thomas Grinyer took his second starter, knowing that the southernmost point of the UK mainland touched by the Greenwich meridian is in east Sussex. A couple of bonuses were taken on water polo. Completing an excellent ten minute’s work David Murray correctly informed us that Sachin Tendulkar was the first person to score a double century in a one day cricket international. One poetry bonus took their score to 140, while LSH languished on 60.

Did I think they would come back? No. But there’s always the question whether a team in this position will go into their shells, or go down all guns blazing, and so I was interested to see what would happen in this last few minutes of the show. Neither team recognised a photo of Francois Truffaut. Nor did they fancy a question about Thermal Diffusivity. Don’t blame them. However when a question asked about a lady born in Prussia, it was that man Murray who knew that this was Catherine the Great. Homerton managed to identify one of the following stills from Truffaut films. When you’re down, nothing quite goes right, and so when Martin Harker buzzed in after being asked for a Rive r of the Underworld he zigged with Styx, while David Murray correctly zagged with Lethe. People called Stark proved unproductive in terms of bonuses, and so we went on to the next starter. Thomas Grinyer knew that Maximilian I was installed as Emperor of Mexico, and this brought up a full set on the Isle of Wight.

Now we really got to see some grit and fight from LSH, and I commend them for it. Martin Harker, leading from the front, recognised E. Nesbit’s married name. A full set on medical scans and their acronyms followed. Neither team knew Terpene. Nor that if you add the number of EU member states to the number of EU languages you get 50. Nor did I. Grace Eckhoff knew that both Kennedy and Lincoln were succeeded by Johnson – although not the same one. 2 bonuses on German states followed. Finally Martin Harker took the last starter, knowing that the seats for unaligned peers in the House of Lords are crossbenches. Their one bonus on vegetables meant that at the gong, Homerton had won by 190 to 115.

Well played Homerton. I don’t make you favourite to do an Emmanuel, but no team in the second round can afford to take you lightly. Well played too LSH – nothing to be ashamed of.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

He’s calmed down a lot this series, has our Jeremy. Time was when getting an English poetry question wrong would be enough to bring a withering comment. Now, though, it was more in sorrow than in anger that he greeted both teams' failure to identify Keats’ “Ode to A Grecian Urn “ with a heartfelt sigh, and words obviously wrung from the depths of his soul, “I’m astonished !”
Nice to see him praising Homerton’s honesty in admitting that they said Carbolic rather than Carbonic acid.

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

Ekphrasis means an attempt to render a work of art in words – e.g. the afore mentioned Grecian Urn.


Jack said...

Not sure what to make of that one. The expected win for Homerton, though they didn't quite dominate the way I'd have expected them to. Not sure what to make of them after this, especially as they failed to equal their first round score.

Both captains played innings: Mr Harker got four for LSH, while Mr Murray managed seven for Homerton, while his side managed 16/33 bonuses. LSH made 12/20 bonuses, but three penalties dragged them back.

So, next week, Worcester play St Andrews in the play-off, then, the week after, Clare face Leeds in the first second round match.

Ben Dutton said...

Not a great match, I felt, with the outcome I expected.

One thing does annoy me with UC though, and that is that they don't give the answer to the question asked when the gong goes:

I want to know what the mix veg balkan answer was - can't quite remember the question - and a google search afterward didn't help. So what is the answer?

HughTube said...

Macedonia presumably.

Londinius said...

Hi everyone

I enjoyed the match , even though it always looked like a win for Homerton.

Hugh, I'm sure you're right over the vegetables - Macedonia/macedoines was what I ent for just as the gong sounded.

Des Elmes said...

Have to agree with Jack and Ben here - an expected win for Homerton, but not the greatest of matches.

Indeed, there were no less than nine dropped starters...

One had to praise Mr Murray, though, for his honesty when Paxo asked him whether he said "carbonic" or "carbolic".

I suppose JP doesn't give the answer to a question that's asked just before the gong goes because neither he nor the production team see a need to.