Thursday, 14 February 2013

University Challenge - Quarter Final Match 2

UCL v. Bangor

Last week we saw one London team, Imperial, taken down in the first of their quarter final matches. Were we going to see it happen again this week? Not if the UCL team of Adam Papaphilippopoulos, Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith, Tom Parton and their captain Simon Dennis were to have anything to say about it. But were they to have anything to say about it? Their opponents were this year’s surprise package, in the shape of the University of Bangor, represented by our own Adam Pearce, Mark Stevens, Simon Tomlinson, and captain Nina Grant. I hope I’m not being unfair if I say that they have already exceeded many people’s expectations, but why stop here?

Adam struck first for Bangor, correctly deducing that Mark Twain had been writing about his difficulty in learning German. Ja. Their bonuses on Machiavelli’s The Prince brought ten more points. Adam struck again with the second starter, knowing that the poet killed in the last week of the first World War was Wilfred Owen. 19th century periodicals started well, with the old chestnut about ‘Household Words’ but that was it. Tom Parton opened UCL’s account with our old friends, the halogens. ( Have you met the Halogens? Frightfully nice couple, don’t you know. ) Empedocles didn’t mean a lot to me, and neither did it do much for UCL, though we both guessed since he was born in Sicily, the volcano had to be Etna. Adam Papaphilippopoulos leapt in a little too quickly on a question asking for the Newspaper that came to be seen as the mouthpiece for conservative Middle England, losing five and allowing Simon Tomlinson in for his first of the contest with the Daily Telegraph. I like its Cryptic Crossword, myself. An early UC special set raised its head over the parapet for this one. Clues were given to pairs of towns or cities, whose names ended with the same element – eg Winchester and Chichester . They took the first two, but Gloucester and Worcester did for them. Simon Tomlinson took the picture starter for good measure, recognising an Austrian Passport, even though the name of the country had been removed. More of the same followed, and Bangor took all 3, impressing JP into the bargain. So the opening phase of the contest was emphatically Bangor’s, and they led by 80 to 10.

Put yourself in the position of UCL. You know that you’re a good team. You know that there’s a lot of time to go. Yet you’re being consistently beaten to the buzzer by Bangor. You have the choice to either go into your shell, or give it a damn good lash. Tom Parton tried the latter, but came in too early for Count Metternich. Simon Tomlinson had that. Works of the French Enlightenment only yielded one on a tricky set. Nobody knew the velum, but Adam buzzed in a little too early for a speculative punt and lost five. Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith buzzed in too early on the next , returning the favour, thus allowing Simon Tomlinson to inform us that Edmund Burke wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France. Bonuses on Physics meant that my mind could go bye byes for a moment or two, and when it came back Bangor hadn’t added any more points, but were leading by 100 – 0. Blimey! Time for UCL to start getting into the game if they were to have any hope, before JP could utter his dreaded ‘plenty of time left for you to get into the game’ which as we all know is the ultimate kiss of death to any team’s chances. Tom Tyzsczuk –Smith obliged with madrigal – which term is apparently derived from Mother Church – didn’t know that. First lines of novels written in the 1960s followed, and they managed one of them. Neither team knew some insecticide thingummybob. Tom Tyzsczuk – Smith knew that recusant and Etruscan are anagrams. The Wallace Collection brought them another 10 points, and the gap was down to 65. The music starter followed this, and the last moments of Romeo and Juliet were recognised by Tom Parton. More operatic characters on the point of death based on figures from literature brought 5 more points, and the gap was now down to 50.The increasingly effective Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith knew The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – which happen to be two of the less popular luxury items chosen by castaways on Desert Island Disks. This starter, and its accompanying bonuses on Triton halved the gap again. Neither team knew about the derivation of the term Baker’s Dozen. Simon Dennis, quiet so far in this match, knew that Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of India, so its US equivalent would be California. The bonuses on the Arab League, of which they took one, meant that they were within a starter and a bonus of the lead. Adam Papaphillipopoulos buzzed in too early on Max Ernst, but Bangor couldn’t capitalise.Tom Parton knew his geometry for the next starter, and this put his team 5 points behind. Spanish drinks provided the nest set of bonuses for UCL, and 3 correct answers put them into the lead. At just after the 20 minute mark they led by 110 to 100. Now, on paper, that’s a close game. However UCL had comprehensively won the last 10 minutes, and Bangor weren’t getting a look in. Talk about a game of two halves. Was it going to be a game of three thirds, though?

Maybe so. Simon Tomlinson took Bangor’s first starter for what seemed like a long time identifying a painting of the Lady of Shallot. Other paintings of the same theme gave them a 10 point lead again. Adam buzzed in too early for the next starter. When given the year connected with the landing of a monarch – 1688 – Tom Tyzsczuk – Smith was two too early with William Ist. Simon Dennis was first to win the buzzer race for Agra, site of the Taj Mahal. Amazingly I did know Dennis Gabor, but that was it for me on the holography bonuses. UCL were only a little way ahead , but they were in control now, and so Tom Tyczsczuk _ Smith was very quickly in for Georges Braques, co founder of cubism. Cross Fell proved rather unforgiving, and landed them no more points. Tom Parton knew that some complicated Physics stuff gives you mass. Novels whose titles contain one or more points of the compass yielded 2 more correct answer. 40 points wasn’t a huge lead for UCL, but it was looking more and more like they’d pulled this one out of the bag. Films of Sidney Lumet fell to Simon Dennis, but Botany didn’t yield much in terms of bonuses, although they did get the last. Pretty safe as UCL were by now they kept piling on the agony, when Adam Papaphillipopoulos answered that Laos is an anagram of a word which means as well as. Bonuses on place names beginning with AZ yielded enough to take them to 190. Simon Tomlinson knew that the focal length of a perfectly planar mirror is infinity. People born in Rouen yielded them nul points, tant pis. The gong went before either team could have a stab at the next starter. The final score was a fairly conclusive 190 to 125 win for UCL – well done there. Still, Bangor aren’t out of it. For the first ten minutes they showed that they can outplay what is reckoned to be one of the strongest teams in this year’s competition. Winning the buzzer race when you’re under the cosh, though, that’s the secret, and UCL showed that they can certainly do that.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

It was almost 15 minutes before there was anything at all from JP in this show. Tom Parton’s suggestion of Paraquat as the safest natural insecticide to use on foodstuffs, while not in the same class as last week’s Inspector Clouseau, was met with a disdainful snort.

Right – now, only this morning I saw someone defending JP against accusations of bullying, which I guess can only refer to his reaction to the answer of William Ist – “Noo! William the First !!! No, I’m sorry, no you know, that’s VERY wrong ( pause ) It’s only out by 600 years or so anyway. “Fairly innocent stuff for JP that. Tom Tyzsczuk – Smith seemed to take it in good part. Apparently the BBC received 47 complaints. All I can say to those who took the time and trouble to contact the BBC is – Have you NEVER watched UC before?

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

W.B.Yeats deliberately excluded the work of Wilfred Owen from the Oxford Book of Modern Verse.


jim360 said...

Despite the loss, it's clear that Bangor have by and large got better as the series has progressed. Having knocked out Durham and given the perhaps favourites of UCL a serious run for their money, will they continue to impress?

I thought the questions were fairly hard this week, and even the Physics ones were on areas outside my knowledge (the Orbitals bonus set I only got 5 on, knowing of s, p, d, f etc but not what they stood for, for example). By contrast, the Machester v. Imperial episode I seemed to answer a lot more -- so it might be impressive that this match was higher-scoring that last week's and so good news for UCL and Bangor. We'll see.

Yes, the Tyszczuk-Smith incident was just JP in his usual self. Maybe laboured the point a little when the Third -> First was surely just a slip of the tongue, but exactly what we'd expect. I hear his mother has come out in support of Paxo!

I also want to say that you should look out for this Sunday's Telegraph puzzles section... a puzzle of mine should be in it.

Jack said...

Well, what an interesting match this was. From 100 down at one point, UCL recovered into an impressive final lead. It was hard luck for Bangor that their momentum ran out after that impressive start. But, as James said, it does show they can score impressively, when they have the momentum.

I can't remember the last time a side came from so far down to win by such a big margin. Normally, teams come back from that far behind usually only win by a nose. (Manchester over Lincoln, or Oxford Brookes over Cardiff a few years back).

On the starters front, Simon Tomlinson was the best buzzer of the night with six starters, which led his side to 11/24 bonuses with two penalties. UCL were jointly led by the Toms Tyszczuk Smith and Parton, and managed 18/36 bonuses with four penalties.

So, next week, Pembroke vs St George's, followed by New College vs King's the week after.