Saturday, 28 January 2012

University Challenge Quarter Final - Qualification match 1

One of Monday night’s teams was going to earn automatic qualification for the semis. In the blue corner the team consistently rated the most entertaining of the series so far – University College , London. Inexplicably I failed to review their first quarter final match where they beat Manchester. The team of Hywel Carver, Patrick Cook, Tom Andrews and captain Jamie Karran have somehow charmed JP so much in their performances so far that he tends to chuckle his way through their matches.

In the red corner stood ( er , sat ) Worcester, Oxford. They beat Newcastle in their first quarter final match. Since losing a nailbiter to Clare College in their first round match they have gone from strength to strength – and we’ve seen teams go all the way after losing their first round match before. The team consists of Dave Knapp, Jack Bramhill, Jonathan Metzer and captain Rebecca Gillie

The People’s Choice – aka the highly watchable UCL skipper Jamie Karran was incorrect with his answer to the first starter, but Dave Knapp of Worcester made no mistake with Greenpeace. Of the 3 bonuses on monarchs who shared the same name and regnal numbers, they managed one. Jack Bramhill was a little twitchy on the buzzer for the second, and offered myrrh when frankincense was required. Patrick Cook took that one. UCL couldn’t manage any of a set of bonuses on Timon of Athens. Not surprised. Hywel Carver recognised that the medieval film with the swamp castle and other features was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. JP forgave him for saying “Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. He really does have a soft spot for UCL. Alright – this will have been the producer’s decision via the earpiece – but JP still does have a soft spot for UCL. No bonuses followed on the latin names and calls of common garden birds. Neither team recognised a work by English revolutionary writer and philosopher Thomas Paine. Dave Knapp took his second starter for Worcester with a scientific formula, and again, JP allowed a little leeway when he didn’t originally couch his correct answer as a formula. 2 science bonuses were taken. So UCL were at the moment winning more starters, but Worcester were making up the difference with bonuses. A wonderful UC special followed as the picture starter. This showed a riddle written in French. JP helpfully informed the teams that they could answer in either English or French. Kaptain Karran immediately buzzed in with “Je ne comprends pas !”Well, it made me laugh. Neither team took it , but Patrick Cook earned the accompanying set of bonuses by knowing the original use of the Pantheon in Paris. The following riddles in different languages all had letters of the alphabet as the answers. They took a clean sweep of these. Which was enough to give UCL the lead at the 10 minute mark, with 45 to 30, which was probably fair at this stage of the game.

Patrick Cook knew about the Marquess of Salisbury, but UCL couldn’t do much with a set of bonuses on jumps in figure skating, getting a point only for the axel. Jonathan Metzer made a good and brave early buzz about Saturn to bring Worcester back into the competition. A nice full set followed on schools in the works of Charles Dickens. Neither team knew the term Thalweg. No, don’t be ridiculous, of course I didn’t. Hywel Carver knew that the term for flight used to describe works by Bach and Buxtehude amongst others is fugue. One bonus followed on artists. This music question was followed by a music starter, but neither team recognised Hamlet by Liszt. So the music bonuses rolled over to be earned by Jamie Karran, who came up with the term elan vital. One bonus was taken. Hywel Carver knew all about pilcrows , but the chemistry bonuses proved hard to get, and again they only managed to take one of the set. While they kept winning the buzzer race they looked OK, but they weren’t stretching the lead to any great distance at all. A lovely buzz from Jack Bramhill followed, when he knew that the abbreviation for the biggest city in California, the designer of St. Paul’s, and the largest church in the UK would give you the surname Lawrence. Worcester managed two bonuses on unusual transportations, which meant that for all of UCL’s efforts , by the 20 minute mark their lead was a mere 30 points – 105 to Worcester’s 75.

Neither knew that the Dey was the ruler of Algiers in deys gone by . Sorry about that. Nor did they know that the meson was predicted in the works of Yakawa. Dave Knapp did know that Roy Hattersley and other politicians and writers were all from Sheffield, though. Three bonuses followed on island capitals, and the teams were level. Neither team could take the picture starter – which revealed a picture of Prince Arthur, the older brother of King Henry VIII. However skipper Rebecca Gillie knew that Khalidasa was regarded as one of the foremost poets in Sanskrit. 2 bonuses on other eldest sons of monarchs who never made it to the throne were taken. Neither team knew about Derrida, but Jack Bramhill supplied the term molality for the next starter. For once Worcester failed to score on a set of bonuses on East Asian history – specifically Chinese imperial dynasties.The lead was looking ominous, and maybe this led to Patrick Cook buzzing in too early to offer Leipzig as the capital of East Prussia. 5 points were lost, and to add insult to injury Dave Knapp gave the correct answer of Konigsberg. Incidentally, that's Woody Allen’s original surname, I believe.Woody Kaliningrad ? I digress. 2 bonuses on chemistry edged Worcester closer to the semis. Hywel Carver took a UC special. If A is 1 and B is 2 – which poet had initials 23 – 2 – 25. I had it too, I’m pleased to say, and it was W.B.Yeats. Yet again, there were no gimmes for poor UCL in the set of bonuses they earned – a set of football questions from back in the days when Alf Common earned the world record transfer fee of half a crown, or something like that. They did well to get one. Jack Bramhill was happy to inform us all that Radium and some other elements were all discovered in the 1890s, and two bonuses followed on divisions of court. All that remained was for Patrick Cook to supply the last correct answer, regarding Jupiter, and that was it. Worcester won by 170 to 120. No question that Worcester deserved to win – they scored more points. But maybe the margin flattered them a little. UCL could reasonably claim to have been a little unlucky on the bonus sets that came up for them. But that’s the luck of the draw. Like many people I do find this UCL team very entertaining, and I still hope that they’ll qualify for the semis. No doubts about Worcester though – well played and good luck !

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When UCL are playing a smile is never very far from JP’s face. He got into the spirit of it fairly early in this show too. When incorrectly offered Ezra Pound as an English vorticist he toyed with them a little – “Ezra Pound ? Interesting choice . . . but wrong. “
Then after UCL had failed to answer either of the first two bonuses on birds’ latin names and their calls he sank a particularly delicious barb in – “ Finally for a possible 5 ( pause for effect ) although it’s unlikely, I’ll admit. “

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

A pilcrow is a symbol used in DTP to mark where a new paragraph should go.

1 comment:

Jack said...

UCL are certainly an entertaining team to watch. I'm just a bit concerned about how seriously they're taking the contest. They've reached the quarter-finals, and beaten two strong teams, so they're clearly intelligent chaps. And they're clearly not afraid to guess, even if they know they're wrong.

They were let down by their bonus rate: just 8/26 with two penalties. Worcester made a much better 17/27. Dave Knapp's four starters were best for the Oxonians, while Hywyl Carver and Patrick Cook also got four each for the Londoners.

Can Worcester win the contest? Maybe. We know they're vulnerable due to their very narrow first round loss to Clare, and they have been pushed at times since, notably against Queen's, where they were lucky to survive a late barage to win by fifteen points. But on a good day, they could easily take the title.

So, on Monday, Manchester play Newcastle, with the losers going out. The week after, a Cambridge derby between Pembroke and Clare, with the winners making the semis. And with the first Paxo era rematch the week after that, the drama is certainly not over this series.