Saturday, 4 February 2012

University Challenge - Quarter Final Elimination Match

This was one of those matches you get in the quarter finals where a win doesn’t guarantee progression to the next round, but a loss means instant elimination. Manchester lost out to UCL in their first quarter final match. Well, we saw UCL lose their second game last week. The team of Luke Kelly, Michael McKenna, Paul Joyce, and captain Tristan Burke didn’t seem to be quite on top form in that game. Newcastle lost a good close contest to Worcester College Oxford in their last match. The team consisted of Ben Dunbar, Ross Dent, Nicholas Pang and skipper Eleanor Turner. Much would depend on how well they could match the buzzer speed of Manchester.

Paul Joyce knew that you can see the Bar in the Folies Bergere, and other paintings , in the Courtauld Gallery. Showing that they meant business form the start they took a full set of bonuses on returning to power. We saw last week just how important it is to make the most of your bonuses. Neither team knew the internet abbreviation BTDTBTTSRTB – or something like that – which means - been there, done that, bought the T Shirt , read the book. Tristan Burke knew that the ‘fairies midwife ‘ is Queen Mab. Once again Manchester took the full set of bonuses, on scientists. Nicholas Pang made his mark on the competition by taking two starters in a row for Newcastle now. He knew String Theory, which brought up one bonus on The Iliad, and Haydn Symphonies, which brought up two bonuses on joints in the human body. The first picture starter showed us the badge of the Parachute Regiment. Ben Dunbar chanced his arm with the SAS – but that has a dagger rather than a parachute on it. Paul Joyce supplied the correct answer. Manchester identified two more badges. Paul Joyce, pick of the buzzers in this opening section of the contest, also knew that the First Division Association is the professional organisation which represents senior civil servants. 2 bonuses followed on words. So with good buzzing, and a fine bonus conversion rate Manchester had made an excellent start to lead by 90 points to 40 at the ten minute mark.

Captain Tristan Burke warmed to the task now in this crucial mid-section of the show. First of all he recognised a description of “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”, which brought up a set of bonuses on Gabon. This was the first set to elude Manchester completely. Michael McKenna took his first starter for the next , supplying us with the Latent Heat of Fusion, which wasn’t quite what JP wanted, but he accepted it anyway. 2 bonuses followed on a good UC set , whereby a line from a work of literature was given – the following words of which provided the title of a different piece of literature. For example – Tender is the Night – Scott Fitzgerald – which is part of a line from Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. Nice set. Paul Joyce knew a definition of a mortice, and the team were happy to take a couple of bonuses on physics. Tristan Burke knew that Gustav Dore engraved illustrations to many works including the Divine Comedy ( read it myself – and for a comedy there ain’t many laughs in it , but I digress ) 2 bonuses followed on Kierkegaard. The music starter eluded both teams, where pieces by two composers were played, and the teams had to identify the family relationship between the two. They were brother and sister. Tristan Burke knew that Mark Twain’s memoirs were published 100 years after his death. They managed a bonus on the composers. Neither team knew an astronomical starter referring to the vernal equinox. Tristan Burke knew that Rip Van Winkle took a nap in the Catskills, which gave them more bonuses on Physics. Neither team knew that the compass, gunpowder and printing were once described as the three inventions which did most for the development of the modern world. It was that man Burke again who knew the goji berry, and this brought up 2 bonuses on a set of clergymen, who were famed for things other than their ecclesiastical duties – eg Gilbert White, author of “The Natural History of Selbourne”. You’ve probably noticed that Manchester had achieved that relative rarity, a complete ten minute shut out of their opposition. Newcastle remained on 40, but Manchester were now on 215, well over the event horizon.

The questions that remained to be answered then were could Newcastle break the psychologically important 100 barrier, and could Manchester beat the 300 barrier. Neither team knew that the Adams built the Adelphi in London. Paul Joyce recognised a series of works inspired by bullfighting. 2 bonuses were taken on a city in Turkey. The Manchester skipper knew Armand Jean du Plessis was better known as Charlton Heston – sorry – Cardinal Richelieu. A bonus followed on British coins. Full credit to Nicholas Pang for finding the speed to win the buzzer race , and break the spell Manchester seemed to have cast over Newcastle, by giving us the Cook Strait. 2 bonuses followed on John Dryden. Michael McKenna knew Mercury for the next , and this led to a full set on layers of the atmosphere. Which took Manchester to 300. They slipped back down momentarily through an incorrect early buzz on the next question, This allowed Nicholas Pang to tell us that Pashto is a language of Afghanistan. 3 bonuses on Serbia and sport brought them closer to the 100 mark, but time was running out. A couple of bonuses on surrealism , and then on the word Aubergine went begging. Michael McKenna identified a condition affecting the tongue, and this led to two bonuses on pairs of anagrams – eg – carthorse = orchestra. Neither team knew that Wilmongton Ohio is named after the second Prime Minister of Great Britain. Tristan Burke took his last starter with Picasso’s Guernica – and could certainly reflect on a very good evening’s work. Ross Dent had the honour of taking the last starter, knowing the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, and two bonuses on Christmas Eve would get them to 100. Alas they only had time for the 1. So at the end Manchester had achieved a huge score of 330, while Newcastle languished on 95. Hard lines Newcastle – it just wasn’t your night. But well played Manchester ! There’s every good chance that this team will emulate so many Manchester teams who have reached the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I’m a little worried that JP may be going just the tiniest bit PC. When the two teams offered “Father and son “ and “Uncle and nephew” for the relationship between the composers in the music starter he replied “ How remarkably sexist of you ! It’s brother and sister. “ On the aubergine question when offered tomato he replied “ Good heavens no !” Great stuff. I also enjoyed his “Come on chaps !” encouragement to Manchester to provide an answer in the closing stages of the competition. Delightfully Anthony Buckeridge, that. Finally it was nice to see JP pay tribute to Newcastle, by saying that they were a long way off their normal storming performances – which at least recognises that they have played well in this series.

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

Manganese is mostly mined from pyrolusite.


Des Elmes said...

It's quite likely that Manchester went into this match feeling a little sore after their surprise defeat to Jamie Karran and co - but it wasn't likely at all that they'd go and blow Newcastle's challenge completely out of the water.

Not when the Tynesiders had played so well beforehand, even if they tended to take a bit too long on the bonuses.

As it happened, though, the Mancunians picked up starters as though they were taking candy from a baby - and, in stark contrast to the match against UCL, the bonuses fell very well for them too.

And it was perhaps a shame that they eased up just a little bit in those final few minutes - otherwise they could well have passed the 350 achieved by Gail Trimble and her team just over three years ago...

But then, Newcastle did not deserve to lose so heavily - not when they were very good when they did get to play, and were, in fact, not using up as much time on the bonuses as they had been in previous matches.

One has to admit, though, that University Challenge can be a funny old game sometimes.

Hate to steal Jack's job here, but here are the stats: Tristan Burke finished with eight starters for Manchester, with Paul Joyce and Michael McKenna getting six and three respectively; the team answered 33/51 bonuses correctly with that one undeserved penalty.

Nicholas Pang looked set to finish as Newcastle's only correct buzzer (with four starters) until Ross Dent sneaked the last starter of the night; their bonus conversion rate was a perfectly respectable 9/14.

The Mancunians' next opponents will presumably be the losers of next Monday's all-Cambridge clash between Pembroke and Clare. One would think that they won't have it quite so easy against either of these teams - but then you never know...

Jack said...

Agreed with everything Des has said. Newcastle did not deserve to lose like that after their prior progress, but Manchester played a blinder and deserved the win.

So, could they follow Magdalen last year in winning the title after losing theirb first quarter-final? Maybe, but there is some tough competition out there still.

Anyway, as Des has said, Monday sees a Cambridge derby between Pembroke and Clare. And the week after, a historic match: the first ever rematch of the Paxo era, as Balliol play Homerton for the right to stay in contention.

Would not be surprised if this is not the only rematch we see this series.

Londinius said...

Hi Guys

Yes, I suppose it was inevitable that a rematch had to happen sooner or later. I tend to agree with you about Newcastle - but they just couldn't get into the match. Eleanor Turner has buzzed well all series, but she didn't get one starter in this show. It happens. As I say, I was glad that JP did menation how well they'd played earlier in the series.

Belus said...

Probably worth noting that the "latent heat of fusion" wasn't just 'not quite what jeremy was looking for' but is in fact entirely wrong (latent heat of fusion refers to melting point whereas latent heat of vapourisation refers to boiling point)

Interesting to see a few VERY generous decisions on answers in this match when previous matches have been incredibly harsh.