Tuesday, 25 October 2011

University Challenge - Round 2 - Match 1

Leeds University v. Clare, Cambridge

What’s this, Dave ? Posting about UC on Tuesday again ? Are you perhaps carrying out the tactical manoeuvre known as ‘pulling a sickie’ ? Nothing of the sort. Its half term week, and so what better way to pass the time than to write about the two best team quizzes on the telly ?

Right, round 2 began in earnest last night, with Leeds University taking on Clare, Cambridge. Leeds, who beat Goldies in the first round fielded the youngest of all 24 teams in the competition, in the shape of Lucy Bennett, Peter Hufton, Christian Mannsåker, and captain Lewis Mills.After a fairly even first 20 minutes, Leeds had powered away to win comfortably in the last ten minutes. Clare, who narrowly defeated Worcester, Oxford in the first round, were represented by Kris Cao, Daniel Janes, Jonathan Foxwell, and captain Jonathan Burley. After that match I said that Clare had good buzzers and strength throughout the team. As a form guide, Leeds scored slightly more in their match, but Clare had exceptionally good opposition in the shape of Worcester, themselves through to the second round proper after winning their repechage match.

Enough of the build up. Daniel Janes struck first, knowing that this week’s starting word was hard. Actually it wasn’t that hard – but you know what I mean. Clare took two bonuses on the Shetland Islands. Chris Cao, who was going to have an influential night, took his first starter on The Lancet. One bonus followed on modern descriptions of old Queens. ( Stop that childish giggling back there ) . Neither team recognised a description of the term infantry. Daniel Janes took his second of the night , knowing that Dante Gabriel Rossetti was the member of the PRB whose father was an Italian refugee. A couple of bonuses followed on human physiology. I got a phone call just as Peter Hufton was taking Leeds’ first points with a science starter, but I heard the team take a couple of bonuses on an American artist. Nobody could take a starter on plant tissue, and Lewis Mills buzzed in a little too early , and 5 points went adrift. I didn’t see who managed to buzz in with Love’s Labour’s Lost – apologies for that, but the team couldn’t take any of the bonuses on writers’ private lives. The picture starter showed us a series of chemical formulae, but neither team knew that it represented the Mohs scale. So that brief hiatus brought us to the ten minute mark, with Clare looking good value for their lead of 50 points to Leeds’ 30.

Jonathan Foxwell knew that the element missing from the series he was told was gold. Amazingly enough, so did I. Once I had finished my lap of honour around the living room I watched as Clare managed two of the picture bonuses on minerals from the Mohs scale. Daniel Janes knew that the famous turncoat American general was Benedict Arnold. This brought up bonuses on political siblings. Chris Cao knew that the german word for thus, which has a completely different meaning in English is also. Also Sprach Chris Cao. 2 bonuses followed on diseases and microbacteria. Chris Cao took his second in a row with Calculus – the branch of mathematics as opposed to the scientist who was a mate of Tintin’s. 2 bonuses were taken on films of the 1950s. The music starter followed on opera. When Clare offered Strauss, they qualified it correctly with Richard. 2 bonuses followed on other operas also celebrating an anniversary in 2011. Daniel Janes maintained Clare’s Juggernautesque progress with the next starter, knowing that a succession of people all had the Christian name Kingsley. I have no doubt that Leeds knew a lot of these starters as well, but this Clare outfit are very good on the buzzer, and they were winning the race hands down. A couple of good bonuses on wars followed. A little surprisingly neither team knew of the fast growing Leylandii. Daniel Janes knew all about various Doras though. The team managed a full set on the philosophy of religion. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – if Janes don’t get it, then Cao must. Sorry – a paraphrase of a rhyme about Laker and Locke – but that’s the way it was beginning to seem, especially as Chris Cao took the next starter on vectors. Bonuses on French dramatists completed a total ten minute shut out, as Leeds failed to add to their 30, while Clare had raced away to 210.

Well, alright, the contest was over as a contest, but there’s always other issues to be settled. How high a score could Clare manage ? What sort of fightback could Leeds put on ? Remember how strongly Leeds finished against Goldies, after all. Christian Mannsåker took the second picture starter , recognising the fabulous helmet from Sutton Hoo. 1 bonus on other buried objects found recently in Britain. That man Daniel Janes took the next , knowing that it was Charles Stewart Parnell who was embroiled in the scandal which ended his political career. 1 bonus was taken out of a trick set on thermometers. Neither team knew that there are 1609 metres in a mile. Chris Cao knew that it was Mr. Richter who gave his name to a scale for measuring earthquakes. A full set followed on Presidential running mates. Ah, remember Dan Quayle ? A great starter followed from skipper Lewis Mills of Leeds. He knew that Missouri – whose abbreviation is Mo – would be Molybdenum if taken as the symbol for an element. Great question, great shout. They struggled , though with a set of bonus on meteor showers. Jonathan Burley, the Clare skipper got in on the act with the next starter on Penicillin and a set of bonuses on popes followed. I didn’t note down who took the next starter for Clare, but by this stage it was pretty academic. Neither team knew that Oedipus had been the king of Thebes, nor that Genevieve was the patron saint of Paris. Chris Cao finished off a great evening’s work for the Clare team, by explaining that the word galaxy is derived from the ancient greek for milk. Finally there was just time for Lucy Bennett to tell us that Reykjavik has consecutive letters ykj. That brought the gong. Leeds, a good team, but always second best in the buzzer race last night, finished with 65. Clare, though , posted 320, a great score, beaten only by Durham’s 325 in the first round. They’ll fear nobody in the quarters.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

In rather a playful mood last night, our JP. Given the Eagle sisters in the political siblings bonus he asked for their names, even though I suspect the surname was enough for the points. Mind you , when given the correct answers he was generous with his Yes !! Well Done !!
He was right to not accept Bartol from Jonathan Burley , who had misheard his teammates’ saying ‘Bartok’. Mind you I did feel that JP allowed a lot of leeway to the Clare skipper over the penicillin question, after the captain stammered around for a bit before offering penicillin. I’ve seen JP cut off answers long before that in the past.

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

The English Civil War is alternatively referred to as The War of Three Kingdoms


Jack said...

Clare played that brilliantly, and deserve their 'epic win'!. But Leeds did not deserve to lose like that at all. Their first round performance more than showed that.

Lewis Mills led the innings for Leeds with two starters, while his colleagues all got one each; they managed 4/12 bonuses with one penalty. Kris Cao got seven for Clare, and the side made a superb 32/48 bonuses. A team to watch, methinks.

Next week, Birmingham play Newcastle, and the week after, Durham take on Homerton. Personally, I think it's a shame those two are playing each other so early; potential for an absolute cracker there.

Des Elmes said...

I was particularly impressed with Mr Cao and Mr Janes - not only did they get seven and six starters respectively, but more often than not they didn't let Paxo finish the question before they buzzed in.

Have to agree with Jack, though, that Leeds didn't deserve to lose like that - and JP was perhaps wrong to say that theirs "wasn't a great performance".

But Clare are definitely a team to watch now...

Des Elmes said...

Looking ahead to next week, and Birmingham v Newcastle...

Brum, of course, have their own great buzzer in the flame-haired Kirk Surgener - but his work against Trinity Cambridge masked a low bonus conversion rate (17/39). The Tynesiders, on the other hand, split their starters evenly against Queen's Belfast, and were more impressive on the bonuses (23/36).

So one would expect a close affair here - but then, this week's match and last week's were also expected to be close, and ultimately weren't...

And then, the week after, Durham v Homerton. Have to agree again with Jack - a shame that these two strong teams should meet at this stage of the competition.