Saturday, 10 November 2012

University Challenge - Repechage Round - Play Off 1

Lincoln, Oxford v. Lancaster

The first of the two play off matches. From here on in, folks, it’s a case of only wins count, and having a high losing score is immaterial. The first ot the teams, Lincoln, Oxford, represented by Victor Jones, Michael Hopkins, Hugh Reid, and captain Jackie Thompson. In heat 7 of the first round they were looking home and dry against Manchester, but a late rally saw them just edged out by 180 to 175, incidentally the highest losing score. Their opponents were Lancaster, represented by Alan Webster , Anne Kretzschmar , Ian Dickson and the captain, George Pinkerton. In heat 10 they were beaten by Pembroke, Cambridge, by 200 to 140. Lancaster’s score was the lowest to qualify for the play offs. So, lowest played highest . cut and dried ? On paper, perhaps, but then matches aren’t played on paper.

In some ways UC is a simple game, and you really only need to do two things well to win. The first is to win the buzzer race, and the second is to convert your bonuses. Well, in the case of the former, Alan Webster was not alone in the Lancaster team to have a decent night. He began as early as the first starter, correctly identifying the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which will only be digital in future, I believe. The latter was taken care of as they converted a full set on people who lost a hand. Jackie Thompson struck straight back for Lincoln recognising a quote from Bertrand Russell. 2 bonuses on the last lines of novels from George Eliot followed. Neither team could give the terms isotopic and isotropic for the next starter, but George Pinkerton , the Lancaster skipper buzzed in to take the next starter , recognising a definition of the word hubris. He too was to have a very productive evening on the buzzer. The set of bonuses on magnetism passed them by completely, though, which allowed Victor Jones to buzz in first to recognise a section from Milton’s “Paradies Lost”. 1 bonus only was taken on armed forces. The first picture starter showed us a German title of a work originally in german, and asked for the English title, and the author. I don’t speak German, but I could easily guess from the similarities to English words that this was Emmanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Hugh Reid came close with Critique of Divine reason, but it fell to George Pinkerton to take the points for the correct title for Lancaster. The bonuses were more works and their titles in the original language. The team couldn’t answer any of them and neither could I . It had been a brisk and competitive opening ten minutes, and now Lancaster led by 45 to 35.

Neither team managed to give the term social stratification and so the next starter saw Michael Hopkins buzz in with carbon 12. A tricky set on Troilus and Cressida yielded two correct answers . A nice starter came next, which asked for two of the three flags which use the colours of revolutionary Francisco de Miranda. Ian Dickson correctly gave Colombia and Venezuela, the other being Ecuador. This earned a UC special set, with pairs of words where the letter L at the end of one has been swapped for the letter R at the end of the other. A full three correct answers were given. George Pinkerton knew about Bunker Hill, and they took one bonus on football. At this stage Lancaster were in the asecendancy, but captain Thompson of Lincoln narrowed the gap by taking a Maths starter. One correct answer on Nobel Peace Prize winners was given. The music starter offered us “Way Down” by Elvis Presley, which I was a little surprised that nobody knew. Mind you, I wasn’t surprised that nobody got the first two of the bonuses attached to it – other Elvis songs recorded along with “Way Down” during his last recording sessions.A little surprised they didn’t know Danny Boy, though not as surprised as JP was. This set was earned by Ian Dickson, who won the buzzer race to say that it was Brunel who featured in a famous photograph in front of the massive chains of the Great Eastern. Jackie Thompson took the next starter on the Brothers Grimm, which earned a difficult set on contemporary Scottish literature, which yielded them nothing. Jackie Thompson then made it a double by giving the correct answer of Aida to an opera starter, and this time it yielded two bonuses from a set on geometry. This little flurry from the Lincoln skipper had just edged her team into the lead, and at the 20 minute mark Lincoln now led by 100 to 95. What a good game.

We didn’t get the whole question for the next starter, but Ian Dixon knew it was an aardvark anyway. 2 points on Church of England Dioceses were well earned. Alan Webster took his second of the night with the French newspaper Le Figaro. Points on botany proved ungettable, as was the next starter. Neither team , again, rather surprisingly, could recognise Christine Lagarde. The bonuses went forward to the next starter, when George Pinkerton recognised the subject of Gordon Brown’s doctoral thesis from 1981. The other photos represented women on the list of the world’s most powerful women, and they, like me, only recognised the first, Sonia Gandhi. To have any chance of winning Lancaster desperately needed the next starter, and Michael Hopkins provided it. Diseases in fiction provided two bonuses, and with a couple of minutes to go it was still anybody’s game. Alan Webster struck for Lancaster with Mint. The bonuses on one act ballets didn’t help, but Lancaster were in front. Two starters went begging. Neither team knew that a couple of football stadia were built on sites formerly connected with the mining industry. Then neither team knew about the city of Amiens – which incidentally has a massive gothic cathedral with the most ornate façade I have ever seen -.Finally Alan Webster secured his team’s victory knowing about letters sent by Stalin’s daughter. One bonus was taken on anatomy, and then the gong brought the match to an end. Lancaster deservedly won 155 to 120. Lincoln showed their class on the questions they answered, but they were beaten in the buzzer war, and that’s where the game was won. Lancaster had three members who each provided three or more starters, and that was the difference. Well played.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Not a huge amount in this show. I enjoyed it where JP read out one of the foreign works’ titles in the original languages – “’The Gulf War did not take place. ‘ “ ( theatrical pause ) Hmm. “ That said it all. Then there was the failure to identify the Elvis song. It sounded as if JP took it as a personal insult. “It was Danny Boy !” he squealed , eyebrows shooting heavenwards.

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

I’m sure that this is probably well known, but I didn’t know that Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Dreams” is based on Chekov’s “Three Sisters”.


jim360 said...

Well played Lancaster, but my gut feeling is that with such a low bonus conversion rate they'd struggle against one of the top buzzer teams such as New College, Oxford or UCL. Poor old Lincoln, though - who with a kinder draw in their first-round match would surely have been quarter-final contenders.

Jack said...

Watched Lincoln's first round match again the day after this match, and was stunned by how such an impressive team were out already. I agree with James that, with a better draw, they'd have been serious contenders.

Nothing against Lancaster, though. They thoroughly deserved that victory, but I agree with James that they'll need to do better next time: just 12/32 bonuses (with one penalty), though Alan Webster and George Pinkerton both got four starters. Jackie Thompson also got four for Lincoln, who managed 10/21 bonuses.

So, next week, Homerton vs King's in the second play-off. The week, after Pembroke vs Bath in the first second round match.