Friday, 7 September 2012

University Challenge - Round One - Heat 6

Magdalen , Oxford v. Sidney Sussex, Cambridge.

I’ll say no more than this about the first of this week’s teams. Magdalen Oxford have won UC four times before. Wow. Bearing the burden of maintaining Magdalen’s formidable UC record were Will Wright, Rob Mangan, Richard Purkiss and their captain Henry Watson. Sidney Sussex might not have won the competition 4 times, but they have still won it twice. Off the point, a tie break question in last weekend’s CIU final was – how many different institutions have won a series of University Challenge – Oxford , Cambridge and London University colleges all counting as separate institutions ? Our guess was 26, the answer being 28. Not that any of this would have worried Sidney Sussex, whose team were Lois Overoorde, Tom Seddon , Callum Robertson, and their skipper, Nye Redman-White.

Will wright showed the sharpest buzzer finger for the first starter. he knew that an influential woman of the court of Louis XV and an adversary of Julius Caesar both have names which begin with Pomp – adour and ey being added respectively. A set of bonuses on censorship yielded them nothing, though. As Callum Robertson well knew, if a question mentions Prince Albert Victor – and especially if it also mentions Walter Sickert and/or Montague Druitt, then jack the Ripper won’t be far away from the answer. So Sidney Sussex earned their first set on biblical sacrifices. Alright, these were gettable bonuses, but we’ve seen gettable ones going begging a lot this series, and so Sidney Sussex’s full house here was impressive, and boded well. Nye Redman- White stretched his team’s lead a little further taking the next starter, recognizing a description of a cantilever. SS failed to take a full set on research facilities , but CERN gave them another five points at least. Rob Mangan struck back, recognizing that the internet company responsible for Skype was being referred to. A good UC set followed, which offered definitions to modern day things and institutions, written in the style of the entries to Dr. Johnson’s dictionary ( to quote Blackadder the Third – Dictionary 2 ? The Return of the Killer Dictionary ? ) Definitions were offered to Facebook, Abba, and UC itself, of which the team managed the first and last. I loved the one they didn’t get. Just mention the words four . . . fit one. . . to any bloke of about 50, and chances are that will be enough for them to get Abba from it. The first picture came next and this too was a little corker. There were five national flags shown in a horizontal line, and the teams had to identify what the sequence represented. The presence of two Brazilian flags – not to mention an Italian and a Spanish one – was the giveaway – this was a line of consecutive FIFA World Cup Winners. Tom Seddon won the buzzer race, and this brought up another three sporting sequences. Hosts of Commonwealth Games went begging , but Winter Olympic Hosts, and cricket world cup winners were both taken . Neither team knew about Hungary’s bout of mid 1940’s hyper inflation, and so with the clock just about hovering on ten minutes Sidney Sussex seemed to have had the better of the opening exchanges, and led by 60 to 30.

A timely buzz from Nye Redman White took the next starter, identifying carob as a chocolate substitute. Criticism of the Pre Raphaelites followed – to no avail since they took none of them. I loved Tom Seddon’s comment for the third one – “Say anything – Say Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles ! “ Well, they were all named after Renaissance artists, but I can see where he was coming from. A long question which started with “The set of all sets . . . “ then asked for a British philosopher elicited an early buzz from Magdalen skipper Henry Watson. They were some way behind at this stage, but a set of bonuses on tea pretty much were their cup of tea, and they took two of three bonuses. Back in rushed SS, with their own captain, Nye Redman-White who knew that King Arthur was associated with the historical battle of Badon Hill. Common names of diseases gave them another 10 points, and pushed the lead back up to 40 points. With the game not half over, there was time left , but Magdalen really needed to start winning some more starters. Will Wright kicked off with the information that 1901 saw the deaths of William McKinley and Queen Victoria ( Gawd Bless ‘Er ). Two bonuses on bays were taken. The music starter this time offered us a piece of brass band music. Neither team could identify the hymn ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer ‘ , or ‘Cwm Rhondda’ It’s the one that goes ‘Bread of Heaven ‘ ( or in the local version, ‘chips from Ammanford ‘ ) feed me now and ever more. Will Wright struck again for Magdalen, recognizing John Prescott’s quote about connecting with the electorate after whacking Craig Evans on the chin in Rhyl. The brass band bonuses followed, and they managed one, but you have to wonder how they couldn’t recognize “The Lord is my Shepherd”. When I was at primary school the only hymn that everybody knew how to sing was that one – although I do remember on another we would mumble along some words we couldn’t remember, than at the end of the verse scream “TO – BE - A - PILGRIM !” The happiest days of your lives, eh. The next starter saw the first miscue and five point deduction of the contest as Callum Robertson was wrong footed, and insult was added to injury when Rob Mangan took the answer that the terms given all referred to crochet. Physics bonuses might as well have been asked in Greek as far as I was concerned, but they managed one of them. Will Wright came in with his own miscue on a term connected with glaciation, and Nye Redman-White knew it was a cirque. This brought bonuses on the Mediterranean theatre in World War II. One bonus was enough to get them into triple figures and give them a 5 point lead over Magdalen. Nye Redman-White miscued on the next question. As soon as he heard ‘creole Louisiana dish ‘ he would have known it was gumbo or jambalaya. He zigged with gumbo, Henry Watson zagged with jambalaya. The bonuses on scientists and music yielded 10 more points, enough to put them into the lead at the 20 minute mark, with 115 to Sidney Sussex’s 95.

These last few minutes would be all about who wanted it more, and who kept their nerve. First in for the second picture starter was Rob Mangan, who couldn’t identify a D Type Jaguar. Neither could Nye Redman-White. Will Wright knew of the Missouri compromise, and the team managed none of the pictures of cars.So Will Wright obliged with the next starter as well, to bring up bonuses on words ending in x. Neither team knew the term vestibule in its anatomical context, and so it was down to that man Will Wright, with the bit firmly clamped between his jaws, to tell us that the german ritter, and the Spanish caballero, are the same as the English knight. Highly appropriate, since it looked like knight knight Sidney Sussex at this point. Melotonin was the link between the next set of bonuses, and a couple were taken. Nye Redman-White wasn’t giving up. He had led by example all game, and he correctly identified dialects of Basque. Bonuses on women politicians gave them a full set, and meant that they were 40 points behind now. Not that long to go, but still possibly time enough. A numerical conundrum – what is the lowest three digit prime number whose digits are all primes , and whose digits also add up to a prime stopped both teams in their tracks for a moment or two, but Henry Watson buzzed in for Magdalen with the correct answer of 223. Bonuses on human skin yielded nothing, and still there was time for more. Lois Overoorde chanced her arm that the Benedictines built Strata Florida, but this let in Richard Purkiss for Magdalen with Cistercians, and extinguished any lingering hopes that Sidney Sussex could still bridge the gap. A nice set of novels whose titles contain the word History gave Magdalen just another 5 points, but they were nearing 200 now, and safe as houses. Will Wright put them just one bonus from the threshold, knowing that Lockheed produced the Lightning aircraft in World War II. 2 bonuses on Eritrea took them safely through . A chemistry question gave Lois Overoorde a correct starter with Ribose, but this was almost immediately followed by the gong. In the end a comfortable win for Magdalen by 205 to 125. Hard lines to Sidney Sussex. They were in the contest right up to the last 6 or 7 minutes, and were, you suspected as you watched, rather better than their scoreline might suggest. Congratulations to Magdalen. A very impressive last few minutes, which seems to promise a lot more from this team as they get into their stride.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Oh, he was on form in this show. It began with the very first bonus, where Magdalen offered CP Snow instead of Thomas Bowdler . “No no no !” the great man replied “ he’s much too young !” obviously laughing at, rather than with Magdalen. On the same bonus set, when offered “ The History of the Roman Empire “ instead of Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire “ he was at his most dismissive – “No no, it’s a very well known title , I can’t accept it “you almost felt he wanted to add ‘how dare you ? ‘ afterwards. But he didn’t.
In the Pre Raphaelite bonuses, for the first Callum Robertson offered D.G. Rossetti, incorrectly. So when his skipper nominated him to answer the second he saw it for the hospital pass that it was, and avoided it with the words “Pass “ and then “I dunno “ just in case JP hadn’t got the message. JP turned his scorn upon the skipper , with the words “ That’s a pretty useless nomination, isn’t it !” If he was prepared to show scorn, though, JP was also prepared to seem impressed. When Nye Redman-White buzzed in early with the 6th century Battle of Badon Hill, he replied “ Good heavens ! Yes, well done . “
When the brass band bonuses could finally be played it was with a due sense of foreboading and dread that JP announced “Your music bonuses Magdalen – and I’m not terribly optimistic about these “ With good reason. When they identified “The Lord is My Shepherd “ as Jerusalem, JP could contain himself no longer . “ Are – you – serious ?!” he spluttered, adding “ Are you tone deaf over there ?”

When the car picture bonuses came up, JP got in a nice little dig , saying that it was one of the rare occasions that Jeremy Clarkson would have done well on this programme. Miiaaaoowww. Mind you it got a big laugh.

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

Sir Patrick Moore composed an operetta about Galileo.


Jack said...

This was a great match, with both teams playing a good game. Shame that Sidney Sussex fell silent in the closing minutes, and an even bigger shame that we likely won't be seeing them again; against another team, they'd likely have come out on top.

An impressive final sprint saw Will Wright finish as Magdalen's best buzzer with seven starters to his name; his side managed 16/39 correct bonuses with one penalty. Nye Redman-White's five were best for the Cambridge team, who managed a very respectable 12/21 bonuses, but with three penalties.

Lots of humour in this match as well (I doubt anyone will forget the Jeremy Clarkson quip quickly).

Monday's match is an interesting one: Manchester (reigning champs) vs Lincoln College Oxford. Now, these two met in the semi-finals in 2008-09, and Manchester won by a thumping 345-30. No doubt Lincoln will want to avenge that loss. But, then, Manchester usually fields strong teams, so they may have a challenge in doing so. Whatever happens, hopefully a good match.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Yes, I liked both of these teams, and for Sidney Sussex I thought that Nye Redman-White looked a class act. As you say, it's a bit of a shame that the team tailed off. Maybe another set of starters and bonuses would have given them the chance of a repechage place. Magdalen look to be one of the better teams to have earned a place in the second round at the moment, although they do seem to have some gaps.

k said...

A solid performance from Magdalen, though it left me wondering how their A team would do if they went on!

Londinius said...

Come on then K - you can't just make a comment like that without gviing us a bit more. Their A team ?

k said...

The Magdalen team that won the Oxford University intercollegiate tournament was a different group of people than the University Challenge team -- the University Challengers being the Magdalen B team.