Saturday, 23 February 2013

University Challenge - Quarter Final Stage - Match 3

Pembroke, Cambridge v. St. George’s, London

In round two Pembroke, represented by Robert Scanes, Emily Maw, Jemima Hodkinson and their captain Tom Foxall, beat the University of Bath very comfortably. Their opposition in this show, St. George’s, London represented by Shashank Sivaji, Alexander Suebsaeng, Sam Mindel, and captain Rebecca Smoker beat Lancaster by 90 points in their own second round show. Both teams showed ability in their first two matches, and it was difficult for me to pick a winner before the start of the show.

Alexander Suebsaeng knew that the last Borubon king of France, and the last Habsburg King of Spain were both called Charles. British currency gave St. George’s a relatively benign full set of bonuses. Alexander Suebsaeng took his second in a row, correctly answering that George Orwell said that Bernard Shaw’s problem with Shakespeare was that Shakespeare wasn’t a member of the Fabian Society.The team didn’t know that Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles was used as a source for several of Shakespeare’s plays, and didn’t manage any bonuses on this set. Me, I thought that Kelvin’s Wedge was what Mr. McKenzie used to be paid for editing the Sun, but no, it was some geometrical thing, with the answer 39 degress.Nobody had it. Then there was the Beveridge Curve, and again, this one went begging. Not surprised. Sam Mindel knew “On the Nature of prejudice”, and bonuses on US presidents took St. George’s to the 50 mark, with Pembroke yet to get off the mark. A nice picture starter followed. We were shown a set of national flags, and asked what the sequence represented. Shashank Sivaji couldn’t get it, which left Tom Foxall to supply the correct answer of secretaries general of the United Nations. Three more flag sequences followed. I had the first - the last five presidents of the European Commission, which the team didn’t, and also the last , the last five countries to joint he UN – South Sudan and Montenegro being the giveaways, as it were. Pembroke failed to score on the bonuses, but they were up and running, and sometimes that is half the battle. Tom Foxall took a good starter, knowing that Wilmington in Delaware is named after a village in Sussex. Bonuses on emzymes didn’t help me add to my score. At one stage I though JP was saying ‘upsydaisies’, but it on the subtitles it turned out to be oxidases. One correct answer took them to 25, precisely half St. George’s score of 50 at the ten minute mark.

Emily Maw buzzed in too early on the next starter. We were given a set of ingredients and asked which cleaning product might contain them. It fell to Alexander Suebsaeng to supply the correct answer of toothpaste. Columns in the Economist provided St. George’s with a full house. That man Suebsaeng also knew that the Abolition of Sefdom in Russia, the Death of Prince Albert and the start of the American civil War all occurred in the year of 1861. The Venetian School of Renaissance artists didn’t promise a lot to me. I answered Titian to each of them, and thereby secured one correct answer. St. George’s did better with two of them. The Music round gave us a snatch of a song sung by Charlotte Church, which was a timely starter for Robert Scanes. The gap wasn’t a decisive one in St. George’s favour yet, but it was a significant one, and this would help to narrow it. More bonuses on other recipients of Classical Brit awards. I had Nigel Kennedy and Howard Goodall, who composed the Red Dwarf theme, and guessed Only Men Allowed. Sadly Pembroke drew a blank from them. Captain Rebecca Smoker knew the term niche from ecology, and the gap was widened again. Epidemiology sounded promising for medical students. They missed the first and the last. I should say anything – I wasn’t even close. There was something about Fermat and an Equation next. Robert Scanes knew it was 2. Pilgrims’ paths offered possibilities for guessing if nothing else, but they didn’t have to guess the last, knowing Lindisfarne Island and its link to St. Cuthbert.Sam Mindel knew that if Lao Tzu is in the question, then the answer Taoism won’t be far out. A good set on world capitals followed, and St. George’s showed just a little vulnerability by missing out on them completely. Neither of the teams, nor me, knew that the largest city of Siberia is Novosibirsk. The gap remained considerable, then, as we reached the 20 minute mark, with St. George’s leading by 120 to 45.

The next starter was a real buzzer race to provide the word compound, as in eye and fracture. Bonuses on vertebrate bone structure did them few favours. They managed the only one that I knew, in cartilage. The second picture showed us the Hubble Space telescope, and Shashank Sivaji won the race to the buzzer for it. Objects photographed from the Hubble provided one bonus. Alexander Suebsaeng guessed that the world record we were quoted in the nest starter was for running up the 1576 steps of the Empire State Building. Politicians and their written works provided another ten points, and to be honest the game was pretty much up for Pembroke by this stage. Nobody knew the chess term ‘zubzwang’. Sam Mindel buzzed in too early with wasps, when the answer to the next starter was honey bee, which was supplied by Jemima Hodkinson. Bonuses on Liszt provided Pembroke with their first full set. Sam Mindel knew that ‘bach’ is welsh for small. Bonuses on fictional architects provided another 10 points. Sam Mindel took his second starter in a row, knowing that Tunbridge Wells and other places have earned the title “Royal”.Organic chemistry didn’t promise me anything, but I did actually have methanol. St. George’s had the other 2 as well. Sam Mindel missed the next starter on alpha particles, but Emily Maw knew it was Helium. One bonus needed, then, to take Pembroke to triple figures. Novels whose titles were taken from plays by Shakespeare provided just that, and another 5 points to boot. That was that, though. The final score was an emphatic win for St. George’s by 195 to 105. Impressive all round knowledge and fast buzzing did the trick for them. Well done, and good luck to both teams in the next matches.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

The great man provided us with relatively little for a long time. There was the mild rebuke “You took a long time to come to that conclusion” when Pembroke could offer no guess for the Nigel Kennedy interlude. Then the rather redundant “All the other team know, you know!” when Pembroke answered their first two bone bonuses incorrectly. Kicking a team when they’re down, that was. Still there was a pretty decent aside when St. George’s offered the answer “Tony Benn” as the writer of the political memoir “A Walk On Part”. “Tony Benn?! No – he’s not so modest!”

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

The Philosophy of Taoism was explained in a book which has a title that translates into English as “Classic of the Way”


Jack said...

Well, this wasn't terribly spectacular, but St George's gave another great performance. Having now beaten three very good teams, they must be taken seriously as contenders for the title.

The questions seemed incredibly hard in this match; St George's bonus tally of 18/33 is even more impressive considering. Pembroke didn't fare so well, with just 8/21. There seemed to be quite a lot of science and maths questions this week, which I thought was a bit unfair on Pembroke, as their opponents would have an advantage on them.

On the starters front, Alexander Suebsaeng continued his impressive series performance so far, getting five starters, while Robert Scanes got three for Pembroke. Both sides incurred one penalty each.

Next week, New College play Kings. The week after, it's Manchester vs UCL, with the winner going through to the semis.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack,

I agree that there wasn't a huge amount of doubt as to the outcome of this one from about 10 minutes into the show, but there we are, that happens sometimes. It doesn't matter how much you know, if you are getting consistently beaten to the buzzer you can't put any points on the board. Add that to the fact that Pembroke had a relative 'off' night on the bonuses, and you've got a pretty comfortable win for St. George's.

Looking forward to Jim's match tomorrow

joe said...

Gill didn’t know that old chestnut, that “Vienna” by Ultravox was kept off number 1 by Joe Dolce’s “Shudduppa ya face”.
The Times January 3 2013
Sir, I read with interest your report on BBC Radio 2’s feature on all-time best No 2 singles (Jan 1). I feel I must refute the notion that Ultravox’s Vienna was kept off the No 1 spot by Joe Dolce’s Shaddup Your Face. Vienna had entered the charts a few weeks earlier than Shaddup Your Face, and was already at No 2 on February 14, 1981, being held off the No 1 spot by John Lennon, who had occupied it since the start of that year.
Dr Arabella Woodrow
Riddlesden, W Yorks