Saturday, 14 January 2012

University Challenge - Quarter Final Match 3

Worcester , Oxford v. Newcastle

Worcester have already played three matches in the series so far. They lost their first match to Clare, a real nailbiter, but defeated a good St. Andrews outfit in the repechage. Then they survived another nailbiter against Queen’s Oxford in the second round. The team consists of Dave Knapp, Jack Bramhill, Jonathan Metzer and captain Rebecca Gillie. Opponents Newcastle, who comfortably beat Queen’s University, Belfast in Round One had also beaten Birmingham comfortably in round two. Newcastle’s team consisted of Ben Dunbar, Ross Dent, Nicholas Pang and skipper Eleanor Turner. The form guide suggested Newcastle could be the stronger team, but Worcester were certainly battle hardened by this time, and had a habit of keeping their nerve in tight games.

The first starter was taken by Eleanor Turner who recognised various definitions of the word field. Newcastle went on to fail on a set of bonuses on 19th century politics. Ben Dunbar took the next on Elizabeth Taylor. A lovely set followed on deaths caused by a fit of laughter – they managed 2. Brueghel followed, and he was recognised by Eleanor Turner, for Newcastle’s third starter in a row. Three circumlocutions followed, but Newcastle only managed one of them. The next starter was a chemistry question, and this was taken by Jack Bramhill to get Worcester off the mark. Bonuses on Physics proved tricky, but they managed one of them. The picture starter showed a stave showing the playing range of a musical instrument. Jonathan Metzer knew it was the piano. Three more staves followed, but only one was recognised. Chicago by Kander and Ebb gave Jonathan Metzer a double, and this brought up bonuses on Russian novelists. This set brought them 2 bonuses, and a five point lead at the ten minute mark – 50 to 45.

Nicholas Pang took his first starter with the term user – friendly. It wouldn’t be his last. The bonuses which followed were on Trafalgar Square, and all seemed gettable, but they only managed the one. The S.I.Unit of dose equivalent radiation is the Sievert. No, I didn’t know it, but Ben Dunbar did. Three bonuses on artists followed, and they answered one of them correctly. Jack Bramhill knew that the barrel is a type of cactus. The bonuses they were given on punning titles of works of literature brought them another correct answer. This brought us to the music starter – a name the composer question. I couldn’t – neither could Newcastle, nor Worcester. It was Debussy. The next starter asked about the little Ice Age, and Jonathan Metzer won the buzzer race to earn the music bonuses on pieces of music associated with the sea. Worcester’s banker was that Vaughan Williams would be in there somewhere, but he wasn’t. Amazingly I knew two of them. I knew the piece from Scheherezade, and I like Vivaldi very much so I also recognised Tempesta di Mare. Bragging again – sorry. Dave Knapp – very effective on the buzzer in previous matches, but quiet so far, weighed in with his first starter, knowing that the modern name of the Indian sea port whose name is still used for a type of curry is Chennai – from Madras. A set of bonuses on glue followed – a very tricky set I thought. The first one, a science thing, provoked a great comment from one of the team - ‘well this has never come up in Classics !’ Almost worth five points on its own, that comment. One bonus was taken. Eleanor Turner took the next starter on brocade. Three bonuses on Dante followed, and Newcastle managed to answer one of them. This put the teams absolutely level on points. What a good match so far. Nicholas Pang won the buzzer race to answer about a quote from Hemingway on Paris. 1 bonus was taken on straits. Nicholas Pang took a timely double, identifying the University of Berkeley for the next. They managed 2 bonuses on the Chinese classics, which gave them a lead of 125 to 90 at the 20 minute mark.

The last section of the contest kicked off with a picture bonus, but nobody recognised that the figure missing from a painting was St. Peter. Jonathan Metzer recognised a set of words all beginning with neo – to earn the picture bonuses. They identified missing figures from 2 of the paintings and the gap was back down to 15. Nobody knew that the Hunterian Museum is in Glasgow. Jack Bramhill knew that a set of definitions were all linked by words with a double letter i. The set of bonuses that followed were on reworkings of works by Anton Chekov. None were taken – not surprised either. Jack Bramhill took the lead for his team knowing that the meteor shower being asked for were the Leonids. Only one bonus was taken. Dave Knapp leapt in to identify the series of paintings by Hogarth called the Rake’s Progress. This earned bonuses on acids – 2 were taken. You might have forgiven Newcastle, who’d never been put under this kind of pressure in either of their previous matches, for crumbling. Not a bit of it. Captain Eleanor Turner nipped straight in when given a series of dishes all containing aubergine. A1 roads brought them one bonus, but narrowed the gap to a single starter. Jack Bramhill knew that canopic is a word which comes before jar. Shakespeare quotes brought Worcester 2 bonuses. Jack Bramhill took a double, winning the buzzer race to explain the meaning of the acronym STOL. A nice set of bonuses on places that have given their names to bakery products followed. Not much time left, and Worcester had what looked like a winning lead of 50 points by now. The chestnutty – what is sternutation ? - passed both teams by. Nicholas Pang gave his team hope by getting the Tropic of Capricorn. But there was only time for one incorrect bonus before the gong. So, a win for Worcester by 190 to 150. A great match which I thoroughly enjoyed. Alright, both teams were a little profligate with the bonuses, but what the hell. Well played Worcester, but also well played Newcastle. They’re not out of it by a long way yet.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP described the labyrinthine rules of the quarter final paly offs as having been devised by “Wittgenstein’s granddaughter”. He was in splendidly curmudgeonly form in the opening, describing Newcastle’s previous two opponents as having handed them victory on a plate, saying that Queen’s Belfast were ‘somnambulists’, and Birmingham were ‘equally dozy’. Having vented his spleen early doors, as it were, he gave both teams a relatively smooth ride, only rather pointedly correcting Eleanor Turner’s pronunciation of Pieter Brueghel.

Interesting Fact I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week

The splendidly named Wilfred the Hairy was once Count of Barcelona.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Definitely one of the closer, more exciting matches of the series so far. We've not had that many truely close games this series, but this was definitely a close one in all sense.

Both sides played a reasonable game, even if neither were particularly impressive on the bonuses: Worcester made 14/36, while Newcastles only tallied 10/30. Jack Bramhill's six starters were best for the Oxonians, while Eleanor Turner and Nicholas Pang made four each for the Tynesiders.

So, Monday sees the final preliminary between Clare and Homerton; the week after, Worcester play UCL for the first place in the semis. For neither match, I have no idea who to go for; both could go either way.