Saturday, 12 November 2011

University Challenge - Round Two - Match 3

Durham University v. Homerton, Cambridge

Durham set the highest score of the first round in their comprehensive beating of Plymouth, where they scored a highly impressive 325. Once again they were represented by Mark Rodgers, Adam Robertson, James France, and captain George Twigg. Homerton had a rather more testing route to the second round, having actually narrowly lost their first match. Still, they made no mistake in their play-off against the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Hardy veterans by now their team consisted of Jack Euesden, Frances Connor, Thomas Grinyer and skipper David Murray. A good match looked in prospect, in fact, the only downside to the match was that whatever happened we would lose a good team.

For once there was no specific word wanted for the answer to the first question. What was wanted was King Edward IV , and he was duly supplied by the Durham captain. 2 bonuses followed on yellow things in biology. Neither team fancied the sound of a W.H.Auden quote about scientists, but Thomas Grinyer knew that the ruler of the Ottoman Empire was the Sultan. 2 bonuses on fiction followed. Neither team knew the S.I.Unit called the Jansky. Nor me. Still, James France knew a definition of barnacles when he heard it, and this gave them one bonus from a difficult set on obscure early Anglo Saxon kingdoms. A rather difficult picture starter was taken by Thomas Grinyer. We were shown sets of flags, and asked to identify the conflict involving the groupings whose flags were shown. I recognized Georgia, but Thomas Grinyer had buzzed in with the South Osettia conflict while I was still trying to think of it. This earned three more sets of flags , from which to identify the conflict, and they managed one of them. Frances Connor knew that a list of artists had all produced pieces of work entitled “The Kiss”, and one bonus on Lord Byron’s dog Bosun was enough to give Homerton a lead of 50 to 35 at the ten minute mark. Not much in it, but Homerton had the momentum.

Momentum which they maintained when David Murray supplied Dumbarton Oaks for the answer to the next starter. Turning on the afterburners briefly, they took a full set on cities in Bavaria. Still, captain George Twigg supplied the answer that it is Montgomery Scott whose birth is commemorated on a plaque in Linlithgow. Keeping the gap to manageable proportions Durham took a full set on Huygens. Jack Euesden knew that reticular is the adjective meaning net shaped, and JP allowed him this for reticulated for the next starter. Once again, a full set of bonuses were taken, this time on eye rhymes, for example champagne and lasagne. David Murray knew that composer – German – piano – are often followed by Schumann, and he was right to say so. One bonus followed now on floral symmetry. A superbly quick buzz from George Twigg for the music starter identified at the most a couple of bars of Beautiful Day by U2. The bonuses were other songs/pieces of music used to introduce sports TV shows. I’ll be honest , I didn’t know the Doug Wood Band who did the snooker theme. I did know good old Soul Limbo by Booker T and the MGs, mind. Adam Robertson took the next starter on microbiology, and two bonuses on Hindi reduced the gap to a mere 20 points. The momentum had definitely shifted, since Goerge Twigg took the next starter, identifying Cameroon as one of three Commonwealth countries whose names begin with C. Canada was given as an example, and the other was Cyprus. 2 bonuses followed on the films of Elia Kazan, and Durham were leading. Neither team could quite answer a starter on Orwell’s Newspeak from 1984. James France knew that the Norway and other species were varieties of Spruce, and a full three bonuses were taken on Asia Cuisine. So at the 20 minute mark Durham had a lead of 145 to 115. Not a winning margin by any means, but the momentum was all with them.

Neither team knew that the only Shakespeare play with the stage setting – The Roman Empire – was Anthony and Cleopatra. A good buzz from James France identified both Paraguay and Argentina as countries through which the river Parana flows – even if JP did allow him a bit of a hesitation. 2 bonuses followed on Physics. The second picture starter followed, and Durham identified it as a self portrait by Francis Bacon. 1 bonus was taken on other artists’ self portraits. You felt that if Homerton were going to win they needed to take the next starter. They did. David Murray was in very quickly to identify the S.E.D. as the ruling party of East Germany. A full set were taken – and very quickly so – on places which have Northern as part of their current or former names. The next question required the word Loam – and James France buzzed in too early, giving away 5. Frances Connor took a punt, and supplied the correct answer. 2 bonuses on chemistry followed, and Homerton were ahead again. Then Thomas Grinyer took his turn to buzz too early, and lost five, while Adam Robertson correctly supplied us with a tapeworm. 2 bonuses were taken on places with the letters – buck- as part of their name. Asked for the name of the city with a set of University campuses they were given, Durham tried Sydney, incorrectly , which led Homerton to punt correctly with Melbourne. One bonus followed on China. The next starter asked for a six letter word which had no vowels – and Thomas Grinyer jumped early with rhythm. No dice. Durham couldn’t take advantage. Not surprising really when you consider that the word required was syzygy. Which coincidentally was going to make an appearance in Only Connect within the half hour, yet I digress. Its hardly surprising that both teams’ trigger fingers were getting a little twitchy at this time – what I believe Sir Alex Ferguson once called ‘squeaky bum time’. Durham jumped too quickly on Peeping with Tom – when they might have noticed that ‘Flash’ was part of the group too, to give Tom, Dick and Harry. Frances Connor had it. That, effectively, was the game, for Homerton snapped up a full set on literary trios. Thomas Grinyer snapped up the last two starters – working out that the highest prime number under 1000 would be 997, and that a Saul Bellow eponymous character would be Herzog. On the scoreboard, 245 to 190 looks like a relatively comfortable win for Homerton. It was anything but. They needed tremendous character to grit out those last few minutes, and dig themselves back into the contest when it looked as if Durham were going to power past them. Very bad luck to Durham. You know that you were beaten by a very good team, and that’s some consolation. But there will be teams who will play worse than you , and still get to the quarters. Its hard, but that’s the way the competition works.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I enjoyed his early snap at Homerton over the picture bonuses. When offered ‘an Indochina War ‘ as an answer he scoffed back,
“ AN Indochina War ? ! LOTS of wars in Indochina ! Come on, hurry up !”
For once, though, I think he hit the nail on the head with his comments to Durham. “Got to say goodbye – it’s a pity Durham. You’re a strong team.” Quite right JP – but that’s the way that the cookie crumbles.

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

There is a plaque in Linlithgow in Scotland commemorating the birth of Montgomery Scott - Scotty in Star Trek – even though the fictional engineer won’t even be born for well over 200 years !


Jack said...

To be honest, neither side deserved to go out this early in the contest. Maybe it's time to introduce seeds for the second round to keep the strong teams apart, as 'random' draw can knock out strong teams prematurely; Edinburgh last year and Durham this year being prime examples.

The stats: George Twigg scored four starters for Durham, who made a superb 20/30 bonuses, while Homerton managed an equally good 25/38 with Thomas Grinyer getting five right. Both sides incurred two penalties late on.

On Monday, Queen's play Worcester. The week after, Christ Church take on Manchester. Again, two strong teams meet each other too early in the contest, IMO.

IanJC said...

As soon as I saw the line up for this weeks show I had mixed feelings, anticipation at the prospect of a good match lessened by two such good teams meeting in only the second round.

Immediately after the show had finished I was saying why don't they seed the teams? I reckon it would be a good idea, but it probably won't happen.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack - Hi Ian JC

I know where you're coming from, and I can see the strength in your argument. Still I'm always loath to advocate changing a tried and tested formula myself. But it was very hard lines on Durham. You can't help fancying that they'd have a chance in the quarters.


LJ said...

If you were to have seeded the draw, you might still have got Durham playing Homerton, who lost their first match and then won their second with 190 points, the second lowest winning total in the first round.

That's not an attempt to do Homerton down however, who were fantastic in that match - there were two key points, after the second picture starter when Durham were threatening to pull away and then when Homerton drew level with them. Homerton responded to the first by scoring 50 points in two minutes, whereas Durham then (understandably) tightened up a bit and gave away two missignals.