Tuesday, 24 July 2012

University Challenge - Round 1 - Heat 2

St. George's London v. Kings College Cambridge

Our first London College played this week. St. George’s London is a medical college , which boasted Gray of the Anatomy and Edward Jenner of the smallpox vaccine among its alumni. The team comprised of Shashank Sivaji, Alexander Suebsaeng, Sam Mindel, and captain Rebecca Smoker. Kings College Cambridge , formerly home to such luminaries as Alan Turing and E.M.Forster, fielded the team of Curtis Gallant, Amber Ace, James Gratrex and captain Fran Middleton. So much for the introductions, then, and let’s get on with it.

James Gratrex took an early lead for his team by identifying the Battle of Thermopylae. Of the three bonuses on marmalade they managed two. Alexander Suebsaeng hit straight back knowing that the lingua franca for much of east Africa is Swahili. This brought up a set on French literature. An impressive full house was taken, giving St. George’s the lead for the first time. With the next starter I did exactly what Alexander Suebsaeng did, and leapt in wrongly with Richard Dawkins , for the author of the 2010 book “The Grand Design” , thus losing the five point lead. Given the full question James Gratrex made no mistake. This brought up a set of bonuses on various thins called monarchs. One was taken. A good buzz from Shashank Sivaji identified Potsdam as the capital of Brandneburg. The bonuses that followed were on Physics, and water. St. George’s took two of these. For the picture starter the teams were shown the route of one of the major city marathons. The word Brookline gave it away for me, and maybe it worked for Fran Middleton too as she correctly identified it as Boston. More of the same followed as the bonuses, with the clue that all of these routed were in European cities. I had Rotterdam and Berlin, but unfortunately the team didn’t manage any of them. Amber Ace took her first starter with the word cellulite.The set of bonuses on hereditary offices of state failed them. At about the 11 minute mark, Kings College led by 55 points to 40. However it’s worth noting that they had actually answered 4 starters to St. George’s 2. A lead of only 15 suggested that if St. George’s could find parity with the buzzer, they were capable of beating Kings on bonuses.

Alexander Suebsaeng found more than parity when he nipped in with an early buzz on the Cathars to take the next starter. A set on 2oth century semi autobiographical novels followed, 2 of which were correctly answered.Sam Mindel buzzed early as he weighed in with his first starter of the day with the term fidelity , in acoustics and telecommunication. Religious relics led St. George’s to draw their first bonus duck . The music starter followed, and Sam Mindel missed out with Dvorak. James Gratrex correctly identified Saint Saens. The bonuses began with a pupil of Saint Saens, then a pupil of his , and so on. Kings managed two bonuses, which put them back in the lead with 75. Skipper Fran Middleton buzzed early with San Marino as the answer to the city state ruled by the Sforza family. That wiped out their lead. Alexander Suebsaeng took the points with Milan, to bring up a set on Anglo Saxon literature. I am ashamed that I missed out on Exeter myself, having studied anglo saxon literature as part of my degree. Getting old, memory’s going, I suppose. St. George’s managed the same two bonuses that I did. Shashank Sivaji knew all about the app Foursquare and that gave St. George’s another starter. A full set of bonuses on Geometry followed, and St. George’s now had a lead of 45, the healthiest lead of the whole match so far. A measure of the quality of this match was shown by the fact that we hadn’t had one starter which neither team could manage until the next, on the term Balance of Payments. Sam Mindel was a little too quick in and lost five. Neither team knew the Bevetron either. Wasn’t he the leader of the Decepticons in Transformers ? Curtis Gallant knew that after 541 days a new government was finally sworn in in Belgium, taking his first starter, and narrowing the gap a little. A good UC set on decades when things happened followed, and the team managed 1 of them. Amber Ace knew two definitions given both referred to the word rut, and this brought up a set on astronomy. One bonus meant that St. George’s led at the 20 minute mark, with 110 to 95. Interestingly Kings were still ahead on starters, with 7 to 6, but their profligacy with bonuses was costing them dear.

For the second picture starter Sam Mindel identified the bark of a birch. More of the same proved beyond them. Not surprised. I wouldn’t have even known they were trees if we hadn’t been told. Neither team could spell ESCHERICHIA for the next , and so it was left to the impressive James Gratrex to try to haul his team back into contention by identifying the 8th prime number as 19. I enjoyed the next set on place names in French – eg. Pas de Calais – Iles Normands etc. 1 bonus was taken, and at this stage you have the feeling that single bonuses just wouldn’t do. I identified Schott’s Almanac from the description for the next starter, but neither team could do that. James Gratrex took his fifth starter with some Physics thing to which the answer was Hamiltonian. Bonuses on Missouri yielded 2, which was enough to give Kings the lead. Neither team knew that Chaucer was born in the reign of Edward III. Amber Ace knew that Verdi wrote the opera “Macbeth”. Medical bonuses brought another 5 points. A late burst was needed from St. George’s , and Sam Mindel provided the initial impetus with the term sublimation, a full 1 second after I had shouted it, delighted that for once I knew a Science starter. I knew two of the Trade Union acronyms, and they knew one. It was a close game, and it was Alexander Suebsaeng who took the next starter on Rice to give his team the lead. A full set on Geography gave St. George’s the whip hand, and Sam Mindel pushed them further into the lead on Creationism. Bonuses on the French Revolution proved tricky, but the one they answered was enough to give them a 30 point lead. Roger Tilling had almost exploded on the previous starter, and so we knew that there was next to no time left, and so it proved, as neither team had time to answer that it was Hilary Mantel who both won the Booker Prize AND had a surname that means overcoat in German. A win for St. George’s by 175 to 145, and you have to say that they were probably just about the better team overall, even though it was a tight and exciting contest. In the end what killed Kings was their inability to make their bonuses really count. At the end, JP said that they may well come back in the repechage round. I’d say that their score makes this possible, but ideally they wanted another 15 or 20 to give themselves a really good chance of returning. Well done to both teams anyway, a very enjoyable contest.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

A very early one in the show this week. When James Gratrex correctly answered that the quote from Herodotus referred to the Battle of Thermopylae, JP seemed hugely amused by the fact that he had answered, being as he was the only member of the team not reading Classics. Actually this brings up the question whether Kings were overloading their team , leaving them dangerously deficient in other areas. That’s an argument made redundant, though, by the fact that St. George's team consisted enitrely of medical students, naturally enough.

. On the Physics question about water and pressure, JP allowed 2000 either way, and seemed hugely impressed when captain Rebecca Smoker gave the correct answer 101,000. “Indeed , very well answered . “ JP purred, impressed. Then not to be outdone, he couldn’t resist adding , “ 101,500 to be precise.”

Warming up nicely, when the Kings team identified the Berlin Marathon route as Dublin there was definitely an edge to his voice when he replied “It’s CERTAINLY not Dublin , it’s Berlin. “

Amber Ace came in for one of his best exasperated schoolmaster expressions, when in response to her offer of “Gross domestic product” he explained “ No no. That is the WEALTH of the country !”

Our hero did at least seem to mellow a little as the contest continued. He grudgingly admitted after St. George’s failure to identify any of the bonus tree barks “They were difficult though. “

Interesting fact of the week that I didn’t already know

The term cellulite, as well as being credited to French doctors in the 1920s, it has also been credited to a New York Beauty salon owner, Nicole Ronsart.


Jack said...

Well, this was definitely a better match than last week's. It wasn't an all-time classic, but certainly a good exciting match between two good teams.

In the end, it was the bonuses that decided the match: St George's made 17/30, King's made 11/30. James Gratrex's five starters were best for Kings, while Alexander Suebsaeng and Sam Mindel got four each for St George's.

So, have King's done enough to return? It's borderline; the last team to score as low as 145 and return in the repechage were Birmingham in 2007/08... and they went on to score 315 in their play-off. If King's do return, they would be worthy of a second chance.

No match next week, due to the Olympics shifting Eastenders to BBC2. Will keep an eye on the listings to see when the show will return.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

I did mentions as much about the bonuses to my daughter with whom I watched the show last night - at half time I said that they weren't converting enough bonuses to win. Still, they're not out of it yet, albeit that I still think in my ehart of hearts that they are a good 15 to 20 points down on what they might need for the repechage

DanielFullard said...

Theres only 1 episode in the next 6 weeks apparently. 3 Weeks off, returns for a week, then 2 weeks off again