Tuesday, 2 April 2013

University Challenge - Final Qualifier 1

Manchester v. St. George’s, London

Put in simple terms this was a straight shootout. The winning team would go through to the semis, and the other team wouldn’t. Both teams looked impressive throughout the whole competition, right up until their last match. The Manchester team of David Brice, Adam Barr, Debbie Brown, and captain Richard Gilbert defeated Imperial in their first quarter, but were gunned down by the much fancied UCL team in the qualification match. As for the St. George’s team of Shashank Shivahi, Alexander Suebsaeng, Sam Mindel and captain Rebecca Smoker, they comfortably won their first quarter against Pembroke, Cambridge, before losing their own qualification match against New College, Oxford. Who do you pick for the win? Well, the fact is that you’re never going to get rich by continually betting on Manchester’s opponents, and my honest opinion was that they might have just a slight edge.

It looked good for St. George’s when Alexander Suebsaeng correctly identified King George V as the 1910 patron of the Royal Philatelic Society. Bonuses followed on International Relations . I’ve got some cousins in Australia myself. No points were taken. Now, there was a nice little UC special for the next starter. We were asked to multiply the number of carats in pure gold by the number of Martian Moons and then divide it by the atomic number of beryllium. 12! I shouted after a second or two. what’s more, I was right – being 24 by 2 divided by 4. Pressure of being in the studio in front of an audience, but neither team managed it. The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau came next. Hopefully they never made that into one of those nasty little films starring Robin Asquith. Captain Richard Gilbert of Manchester was first in for that one. A bonus set on Peterborough yielded a further 2 correct answers, and the lead. Adam Barr was going to have a very productive evening, and he opened his account , knowing that it is “Alice in Wonderland” which begins with Alice tired of the fact that her sister is engrossed in a book that doesn’t have any pictures. Bonuses on the essays of Virginia Woolf saw Manchester being asked to identify the writers to whom she was referring. Again, two correct answers ensued. Alexander Suebsaeng came in too early on the next starter on a French dynasty, losing 5, and allowing Richard Gilbert in with the Merovingians. One suspects the St. George’s team would have quite liked the bonus set on diseases that followed. Manchester certainly liked them, taking a full set. The picture starter showed us a map and several institutions marked upon it. It was the impressive Manchester skipper who won the buzzer race to identify that these were in fact the Ivy League Universities. For the bonuses Manchester had to identify 3 of them in particular, but managed just one. Neither took the next, a Maths thing about a car’s acceleration. Which meant that at the ten minute mark Manchester had a comfortable lead, showing comfortably the faster buzzer fingers. The score at this point was 75 – 5.

Manchester again won the buzzer race for the next starter, with Adam Barr knowing about pollen causing an allergic reaction. This brought Manchester a set of bonuses on Socialism. They took the first and also the third. Sam Mindel finally stopped the rot for St. George’s, buzzing early to give the correct answer that the pendolino trains tilt to allow them to corner at high speed. The team looked relieve to get a set of bonuses, even if they were on terminology in the design industry.They took a full set, and the score looked a lot healthier for the medics now. Sam Mindel did the trick again with the next starter, answering that it was Gerard Manley Hopkins who wrote “Glory be to God for dappled things.” This brought up a set of shorter words that can be made using any of the 8 letters of the word doggerel. This sort of bonus set always gives a team a good chance of a full set, I feel. St. George’s felt so too, taking their second consecutive full set. The gap, which had stood at 90 points a few minutes ago was now down to what looked like a far more manageable 40. It shrank further when Alexander Suebsaeng correctly answered that the cycle race, the Giro di Lombardia, ends at Lake Como. The bonuses on Geometry didn’t really help though, and I felt for Sam Mindel who said “This is beyond me”. They’re all beyond me, Sam!. The music starter gave us a burst of Borodin, and nobody recognized it. Neither did any team get vitamin B2. Shashank Shivaji jumped in too early for the next starter. I’d say that he recognized the start of the American Declaration of Independence, but a rush of blood to the head saw him answer Lincoln, allowing David Brice in with the right answer. That’s the thing about chasing a large gap. You can’t sit back on your buzzer, but at the same time you can’t afford a mistake either. Manchester thus earned the music bonuses. By answering with the name “Rimsky Korsakov” to each one they secured a correct answer on the last. The gap was now back up to 50 points. Adam Barr knew that Ralph Nader wrote “Unsafe at any speed” Manchester couldn’t capitalize much with a bonus set on decades of the 20th century, taking only the last. Sam Mindel won the buzzer race for the next starter, knowing that a biofilm on the surface of teeth is plaque. Mineralogy bonuses cut the lead by a further ten points. Nobody knew that Pericles has scenes on a ship, in a brothel, and in a number of mid eastern cities. Tyre among the list of cities was the clue. Adam Barr had a very good early buzz with the Fresnel lens. Bonuses on Harold Pinter brought them another 5 points. So at the 30 minute mark, for all of St. George’s honest endeavor, the gap had only shrunk by ten points in the last ten minutes, as Manchester led by 140 to 80.

The second picture starter showed us the three women who shared the 2011 Nobel Peace prize. Sam Mindel took that one. For the bonuses there were pictures of three more women who had won Nobel Prizes, they just had to name woman and prize. They didn’t manage any of them, although they knew Marie Curie. There was a terrific early buzz from Adam Barr on the next starter. Given the city of Anaheim in California he immediately buzzed in to say that the third in the sequence would be Paris. Yes, Disney theme park locations – Orlando coming second. JP was impressed. The set of bonuses seemed like that pub game – name 6 famous Belgians. Well, they only needed to name three, and each one was commemorated with a station on the Brussels Metro. We both took the first one, and the third one. For the next starter I knew that Axum is in Ethiopia, and so did Alexander Suebsaeng. The mammalian lymphatic system sounded like the sort of thing that medical students should know, and indeed they did. The gap was now down to 45, and there were just over 4 minutes to go in the contest. Sam Mindel, who played so well in this match for his team, buzzed in early to say that ENIAC had set a record for calculating the value of pi to 2000 places. Battles of the English Civil War and the counties in which they took place yielded nothing. With maybe three minutes left the gap was down to 35. Richard Gilbert steadied his team, taking the next starter knowing that Saudi Arabia is the only country to be a member of both the G20 and The Arab League. London Museums brought me a full set, but Manchester managed 2. At this stage of the game it looked like this would be enough. However Sam Mindel knew that a halogen has 5 of something in its outer subshell. Well, it was something like that. I loved the set of garden birds. A good fifteen years ago one of the teams in the Neath Quiz League started giving scientific names of British birds every time it was their turn to set a quiz. So I learned a shedload of them, and knew all of the three bonuses asked. There was nothing in the names to help you guess if you didn’t know, and unfortunately St. George’s didn’t know. Adam Barr knew that Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield. I had my second full set in a row with Scientists who give their names to elements of the periodic table. Manchester knew them too, and this took them to 200 points. The game looked over, especially when Debbie Brown knew that you can have sooty and arctic terns, amongst others. I’ve always felt that it’s a shame that there’s not a funny tern, but there you go. Charlotte Amalie gave the team the Virgin Islands, but they zigged with British when they should have zagged with US. No points were taken. David Brice knew that there are 16 corners on a tesseract, or 4D hypercube. Believe it or not I guessed that one myself. The gong sounded before we had a chance to hear any of a set of bonuses on Royal Dynasties. Manchester had won by 220 to 135, and I don’t think that anyone could argue that they hadn’t earned their place in the semis. Bad luck St. George’s, but you gave a very good account of yourselves throughout the series.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP seems to be mellowing. Sometimes he seems content just to get on with the game – often in the Grand Final – and this was one such match. There was a slight chuckle when Manchester were asked for which John Fowles novel had Pinter written the screenplay for the film adaptation, and answered “Deliverance”, but he refrained from passing comment, even though he thought it was funny. Then he commiserated with some sincerity when St. George’s took Marie Curie and one of the prizes she won. “Bad Luck” he said, and sounded as if he meant it too.

He even passed up the chance to rub salt into St. George’s wounds, hailing them as a very entertaining team, and reminding them that there is no shame in going out in the quarter finals. well, there’s no actual shame in going out in any of the rounds, for that matter, but nonetheless it was a nice thing to say.

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

You can get plaque on your lawn as well as your teeth.


jim360 said...

There seemed to be a fair amount of Science and Maths this episode - here's hoping for a similar amount next week!

Bad luck St. G's, but Manchester are always going to be a tough team to beat.

Londinius said...

Hi Jim

As you say, Manchester have quite a pedigree in UC, and they do know what it takes to bring the best out of yourself. I was interested to see former Manchester UC winner Henry Pertinez in the audience at the end.

Basically St. George's couldn't really find a way into the game until Manchester had already scored 90. Now, OK, we've seen some big leads overhauled in this series, but even so it's far easier to control the game when you've a cushion like that. Full credit to St. George's for making a game out of it, and the fact that the result remained in doubt until the last couple of minutes does show how well they played after a bad start.

jim360 said...

Yes, I saw him too and I'm fairly sure he'll be in the audience for our match on Monday. Quite an honour to have a UC veteran I watched some years back see me play in turn!

Will G said...

Good game and well done to Manchester.
I don't know if it was just me, but the questions seemed harder than normal.

Londinius said...

Hi Will

It's all relative, I'm sure. I'm sad enough to keep a track of the number of questions I answer correctly in each show, and if anything it was a couple of points above my average.


Jack said...

Well, this was a pretty closely fought match for the most part. St George's managed to keep Manchester within touching distance until the final minutes, when Manchester sped away to a deserved victory.

It's a shame that St George's have to leave the contest; they did look like potential champions at one point. They've definitely impressed though, particularly Messrs Suebsaeng and Mindel, who've been good scorers throughout the series.

Mr Mindel was the side's top scorer with six starters, the same as Adam Barr got for Manchester. The bonuses: Manchester made 19/36 with one peenalty, St George's managed 1a/27 with two penalties.

So, next week the final semi-final between Bangor and King's, in a clash of the 'blog reader' teams. Best of luck to all involved, once again!

Unknown said...

Er, isn't Tokyo Disneyland third in the sequence? It opened long before Paris.