Saturday, 12 January 2013

University Challenge Round 2 - Match 5

Magdalen, Oxford v. Manchester University

A high quality contest this one promised to be. Magdalen comfortably took out Sidney Sussex in their first round match, by 205 to 105. The team once again were Will Wright, Rob Mangan, Richard Purkiss and their captain Henry Watson.Manchester on the other hand only won against Lincoln College Oxford on the very last question of their first round heat. Once again, the team were David Brice, Adam Barr, Debbie Brown, and captain Richard Gilbert.

Will Wright opened Magdalen’s account with a series of Treaties of Paris. Poets’ epitaphs proved equally fruitful, providing them with a full set. Manchester skipper Richard Gilbert hit straight back with Mozart’s “Magic Flute”. Bonuses on 1812 saw them also take a full set. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed the Christmas series, but what a pleasure to get back to watching good teams answering harder questions, and doing it well. The Manchester captain took his second starter in a row, identifying a set of people whose first two names started with the initials JM. The set of bonuses on tests saw the first points dropped on the Holmgren test, and also the Land test. Didn’t matter. Adam Barr knew that Bernard Lovell was the driving force behind the Jodrell Bank radio telescope. This gave Manchester three bonuses on English history and Italian opera, of which they answered two correctly. The picture starter showed is the family tree of characters in “Jane Eyre” and asked for the name of Edward Rochester’s first wife. JP seemed very impressed when Will Wright supplied the correct answer. This brought up a set of bonuses of more of the same – more family trees from novels by the Brontes. These actually seemed a lot more difficult than the starter had, so I wasn’t surprised that they missed out. Nobody knew that The Lady and The Unicorn tapestries, apart from their real life incarnations, are also on the walls of the Gryffindor Common room. Fair enough. We were almost at the ten minute mark by this stage, and superior buzzing by Manchester had earned them a lead, with 60 to 35.

Debbie Brown buzzed in with the word ‘occlusion’ to take the next starter. Antarctica proved fairly fruitful, providing them with 2 bonuses. A good old UC chestnut, the term ‘mugwump’ from American politics was the answer to the next starter, but neither team had heard that one before. It’s one of those you either know or you don’t. Debbie Brown, warming to her work, recognized an English translation of the first few words of The Marseillaise to take the next starter. WH Auden was obviously not a great favourite with Manchester, and that set failed to take them through the 100 point barrier. Not to matter. Richard Gilbert took the next starter, identifying words which feature on Roy Liechtenstein’s Whaam!. Bonuses on geophysics brought another 5 points. Manchester were pulling ahead, and Magdalen’s problem was that they were losing the buzzer battle. Either they had to start hitting and hoping, or Manchester would disappear beyond the horizon. The music starter showed a clean pair of heels to both teams. The next starter saw Rob Mangan incorrectly supply Herodotus to lose 5, but actually he was doing the right thing. Magdalen had to start buzzing, and if that meant taking a few risks, then so be it. If you’re going down, at least go fighting. Manchester didn’t know Thucydides. Neither team knew periparty. Really ? Get out of town. A UC special followed. Basically, if you put together the abbreviation for a Tongan currency together with a Colombian one, you get Top Cop. Look, it’s easier than it sounds, ok? Debbie Brown had it for her third starter. This brought the music starters, on composers who had won the Mendelssohn scholarship. One bonus was taken. Will Wright’s perseverance was rewarded when he took the next starter on a quotation by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. For his pains he earned Magdalen a set of bonuses on bells. A full set took them to 55. A maths thing came next , but neither could answer it. So at the 20 minute mark Magdalen had made at least a wee dent in Manchester’s lead, but at 120 to 55 it still looked pretty commanding.

The next starter on one of the Nobel peace prize winners of 2011 went begging. So did the next on hepatitis A. Rob Mangan took his first starter on countries that joined the UN during the 1970s. Their bonuses on carpets provided no returns for them. We had the second picture starter, and Richard Gilbert recognized a photo of Sir Anthony Hopkins playing van Helsing. The bonuses showed other actors playing the same part. A full set just added to Magdalen’s problems. Richard Purkiss took his first starter for Magdalen, recognizing a series of works by Beethoven. The set on orbits left me by after perhaps the first three words of each question, I’m afraid. They couldn’t take any. Adam Barr knew that a normal somatic cell has 22 pairs of chromosomes excluding the sex chromosomes – at least I think that’s what it said – to bring up bonuses on Royal Appointments. 2 bonuses were taken. Adam Barr also knew that Michael Faraday said that one day one could tax electricity. This brought Manchester to 175, and they looked home and dry. Bonuses on exclamation marks brought them another 10 points. Henry Watson knew that Sir Lancelot is the only other person mentioned by name in “The Lady of Shallot”. English monarchs and their relationship to each other should have been a happy hunting ground, but only provided 5 points. Adam Barr knew a list of phrases all containing the word chicken. The bonuses on Indian states and cities weren’t easy at all, but two of them were answered correctly. Debbie Brown knew a series of attractions in Oslo. Then they were given a set of works which take their names from phrases in Shakespeare. Only the last was taken. Which really was the end, since the gong sounded straight afterwards. A convincing win for Magdalen in the end, by 200 to 90. I think that JP was right to be kind in his comments to Magdalen. They answered pretty well when they could get to the buzzer. However Manchester, for the second time this series, look a class act. In this show they had three buzzers all weighing in with good starters, and they were, to use snooker parlance, contriving to put points on the board every time they visited the table. Well played.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Well, there really wasn’t a lot until when both teams failed to identify the music starter. Then they both failed on the next starter. Finally the next starter gave Manchester the music bonuses, which earned the withering comment,
”Well, you’ll recall that sometime last week we heard Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto . . . “

Now warmed up, he greeted Will Wright’s correct answer to the next starter with
”Right, after that period of indolence, Magdalen . . . “ Believe me, it wasn’t a case of laziness, Jez. They were trying to get to the buzzers, I can assure you of that.

Interesting fact of the Week That I Didn’t Already Know

We didn’t get the full question, but when somebody official asked Michael Faraday about electricity, and what the point of it was, he replied “One day, sir, you may tax it. “ There spake the voice of experience.


Jack said...

One of those matches where the winners played a great game, and deserve victory, but the runners-up didn't deserve to lose by the margin they did. Magdalen, with a fairer draw, could've progressed a bit further.

But Manchester have now more than made up for that 'scare' against Lincoln in the first round. Who'd have thought, halfway through that match, that Manchester would reach the quarters once again, and Lincoln wouldn't even make the second round!

The stats: Will Wright got three starters for Magdalen, while Messrs Barr and Gilbert and Ms Brown all got four each for Manchester. The Oxonians answered 7/18 bonuses correctly with one penalty, while the current champs managed 20/36.

Next week, Bristol play Imperial. The week after, U.C.L. take on Jesus College Oxford. Both look like trouncings on paper, but then, this match looked close on paper, and look what happened here...

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Yes, I pretty much agree with everything you've said. But it goes to show - unless you've got a super quizzer on your team, you need at least 2 and preferably 3 of your team chipping in with 3 or 4 starters to have a chance. Manchester had it, and Magdalen didn't. Game over.

jim360 said...

The final second match will be in some order Durham v. Bangor, to complete the quarter-final line-up.

Manchester looked impressive again, missing a few starters that were get-able but if they keep shutting out the opposition like that it wouldn't be a surprise to see them competing for the title again this year.

There were some tough questions this week though, especially that nasty orbits one that has to be at the high end of difficulty for ask-able Maths/ physics questions. For what it's worth, circles and parabolas are "special" orbits so only occur in very specific cases, whereas ellipses and hyperbolas are much more general. Should it ever come up again...

BoiCymraeg said...

Our second round match is indeed against Durham. I trust we can still count on your support!

I've heard whisperings that the Manchester teams are coached by a former team member. Certainly their entrance arrangements must be pretty competitive; they must easily be the most successful institution of the past 10 years. It's highly unusual not to see them at least make the quarter finals, although Lincoln tried!

joe said...

One clue to Manchester's success; with 40,000 students it's the largest university in the UK. Magdalen College, for example, has 560 students.