Saturday, 21 January 2012

University Challenge - Quarter Final Match 4

The last two teams to kick off their quarter final campaigns were Clare and Homerton, both of Cambridge University. Clare, who narrowly defeated Worcester, Oxford in the first round, were represented by Kris Cao, Daniel Janes, Jonathan Foxwell, and captain Jonathan Burley.They hit absolutely top form in the second round against Leeds, breaking the 300 barrier. Stern opposition for Homerton, then. Their team consisted of Jack Euesden, Frances Connor, Thomas Grinyer and skipper David Murray. Homerton had a difficult 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. Flexing their muscles they disposed of high scoring Durham in the second round.

Straightaway Jack Euesden took a flier at the first starter, and lost 5 . Neither team knew that the series of clues given were all pointing towards the word blue. Thomas Grinyer took the first of what would prove to be a very impressive haul of starters, when he knew that Fianna Fail were the party who were relegated to third in an election in the Republic of Ireland. A full set of bonuses followed on World War II. Daniel Janes lost five for Clare on the next starter, and it was Thomas Grinyer who identified the king being referred to in the question as Henry VII. 2 bonuses followed on words meaning very big. Daniel Janes made up for his earlier mistake by winning the buzzer race to explain that Einstein won his Nobel Prize for his work on the Photoelectric Effect. Only one bonus followed on contemporary reviews of performances by the actor Edmund Keane. Frances Conner took the next starter, identifying Rousseau as the swiss born author quoted. Another full set followed on scientific diagrams. A great UC special followed for the next starter, where anagrams of the titles of a set of books by a particular author were shown. Thomas Grinyer knew that Mame gives you Emma, and that’s Jane Austen. Lovely question. More of the same followed, and they managed one of them. So at the ten minute mark you could only think that Homerton had made a very impressive start. They were clearly winning the buzzer race, and taking a pretty good proportion of the bonuses too. They looked good value for their 80 – 10 lead over Clare, and if things continued like this, then a comfortable win looked on the cards.

Well, things didn’t continue quite like this. Skipper David Murray lost 5 with an early buzz on Home Thoughts from Abroad – the impressively quick Daniel Janes knew it was Robert Browning. Only one of a nice set of bonuses on countries names which may be permissible in scrabble if the spelling is changed – cypress for example. Jonathan Foxwell knew Lamarck, and for the first time Clare had taken two starters in a row. 1 bonus on orchestral conductors was taken. Thomas Grinyer, the most impressive of the Homerton buzzers , hit right back with a set of clues to the number 38 – a fine shout that. One bonus followe don scientific apparatus. My Moment Of The Week came when I identified a little bit of Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach, which neither team could manage. Jonathan Foxwell earned that set of bonuses by supplying the name of Vitruvius, and the team managed 2 bonuses on other works based on the Orpheus legend. Thomas Grinyer was unlucky with his next buzz. He offered what sounded like ‘Blunty’ instead of Blighty – but could just have been a slight mispronunciation. Well, JP was having none of it, and 5 points were lost. Neither team got one of those If A is 1 and B is 2 – then what comes next in the sequence ? questions. All I can tell you is that it worked out to be a Fibonacci sequence. David Murray steadied the Homerton ship with the answer of satire for the next starter bringing a couple of bonuses on 17th century generals with it. However Thomas Grinyer again buzzed too early on provinces of Poland, allowing Chris Cao in. A tricky set on artists proved elusive, but nonetheless it had been a good ten minutes for Clare , who had narrowed Homerton’s lead, with the score now at 100 – 70.

Chris Cao made it two starters in a row when he knew that the roman numerals for 501 are an anagram for id. 2 bonuses on Victorian Clergymen were accessible to the team. The second picture starter showed paintings of two historical figures, and the teams had to identify their eldest son. Clare chanced their arm incorrectly, but Thomas Grinyer, back firing on all cylinders, supplied Louis XIV to earn more of the same. They took one of these bonuses. Daniel Janes recognised Recife and Belo Horizonte amongst others as cities in Brazil. With a full set of bonuses on chromosomes the teams were now level. What a good match this was. Daniel Janes took the next starter as well, on a set of people whose initials were G.G. – Gunter Grass being one of them . 2 bonuses followe don Lancaster. Neither team knew that the USA have hosted the Winter Olympics on the most occasions. Thomas Grinyer, again won the race to supply the answer of CAMRA to the next starter. They wanted a full set of bonuses, but could only take one on Booker prize winning novels and locations mentioned in their first sentences. I loved the way that Daniel Janes was so determined to win the buzzer race for the next starter that he almost thumped it through the table to answer the next. It worked, for he recognised a quote on Washington DC. 2 bonuses on chemistry looked a useful return at this stage of the game. Yet again Thomas Grinyer seemed incredibly quick with his buzz to answer that there are 91 days in the first three months of a leap year. 2 bonuses followed on welsh food – they missed bara brith, which is absolutely delicious by the way . There was still nothing in it. Poor Jack Euesden leapt in too quickly for the next starter and lost five, but Clare didn’t know that plasmodium is transferred by the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. I did. I won’t exactly say I did a lap of honour around the sofa at this point, but I don’t know if I’ve ever got a science starter that neither team knew before. How long was left ? It couldn’t be much, but Chris Cao snatched the next starter on Sikhism, and this was enough. At the gong, Clare had shaded a great contest by 170 to 145.

On reflection, I think that Clare probably deserved the win , if for no other reason that their main buzzer – Daniel Janes, had good support from Jonathan Foxwell and Cao, who made good buzzes at significant points of the match. Although all of the Homerton team buzzed in at one point or another, for them it really was all about Thomas Grinyer in this match.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I didn’t expect a lot . JP is a Cambridge man himself, and I expected him to be rather more benign than usual with both. He was firm but fair with the Papua New Guinea/ Guinea answer. There was just one classic JP moment, though. When pressing one of the teams –
“Can we have an answer now please ? “ his request was met by silence.
“You never listen to me !” he responded, in the tone of a neglected spouse. Great.

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

The angle at which snow is most prone to avalanche is 38 degrees.


Jack said...

Another really close match between two great teams, neither of whom deserved to lose. Both played very well. One wonders whether, had Mr Euesden got that interruption right, whether Homerton would have been able to just sneak the victory.

Daniel Janes' five starters were best for Clare, who made 15/29 bonuses with one penalty. Thomas Grinyer's seven was Homerton's best tally; they made 15/27 bonuses, but FIVE penalties dragged them back hugely.

So, on Monday, Worcester play UCL for a place in the semis. The week after, Manchester play Newcastle with the losers going out. An interesting draw in the latter's case, as this points to a rematch between Balliol and Homerton, the other two initial losing teams. If so, this would be the first rematch in the Paxo era, I believe!

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Yes, it was rare to see a team make quite so many too-early buzzes - and it did make a difference. But then you can't blame Homerton for being twitchy when Clare had clawed their way back into the match.

I did feel sorry for Thomas Grinyer, though. Despite the dropped points I thought he played a blinder, and as you know I'd always far ather see someone go down giving it a lash.

Des Elmes said...

Yet again, events beyond my control mean that I have to resort to the iPlayer...

Anyway, Cambridge derbies are surprisingly rare beasts in the Paxman Era - but when they do occur, they're usually very good.

And this one was no exception.

After that rapid start, Homerton did a pretty good job of keeping their noses in front up until just after the second picture round - they may have been incurring penalties, but they were also making a number of very timely buzzes, while Clare weren't having much luck with the bonuses.

But then Clare made one or two great interruptions - especially on the starter about Brazilian cities - and the bonuses started to fall for them too.

Homerton certainly didn't wilt, though, and it ultimately came down to those last two starters.

In the end, though, those five penalties proved very costly indeed...

They do have the rather dubious honour, however, of remaining in the competition despite two defeats.

And they face the prospect of playing Balliol again...

It's quite remarkable that only now, after nearly eighteen years, do we get a rematch in JP's time - although, of course, we came within an ace of having two in the last series, York and Andrew Clemo narrowly denying Oxford Brookes a second chance against Sheffield and then more comprehensively denying Hugh, Tris, Andy and Tom a second battle with Magdalen.

As for Paxo himself, this was probably his best performance of this series thus far, IMHO. As well as telling Homerton that they never listened to him, he also claimed that the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine "passed into a trance-like state", while Leeds "thought they were appearing on Family Fortunes".


And am I the only one here who noticed that he was wearing a rather fancy tie? The late, great Richard Whiteley would have been quite proud... ;)