Tuesday, 9 April 2013

University Challenge - Quarter Final Elimination match

Here we are, then. The last quarter final match. 3 teams are already into the semis, and only 1 place remained to be fought over . The first of tonight’s teams was Bangor, represented by our own Adam Pearce, Mark Stevens, Simon Tomlinson, and captain Nina Grant. Bangor lost in their first quarter final match to the powerhouse UCL team, but showed all of their fighting spirit in eliminating a good Imperial College team. As for King’s College , represented by Curtis Gallant, Amber Ace, our own James Gratrex and captain Fran Middleton, they lost out their first quarter final match to New College, then saw off Pembroke in the elimination match. Both teams were battle hardened by now, and both had a LAM veteran in the ranks. I deliberately refrained from cursing either with the Clark tip.

Neither team knew the first starter, that the Rio Summit in 1992 and its successors were known as the Earth Summits. Earth Summit also won the 1998 Grand National, but I digress. A lovely little starter came next, asking which set of colours are represented by the prefixes erythro – leuko and cyano. Neither team got that these made the set of red, white and blue. A little bit of a nervous start this, by two teams with everything to gain, but also everything to lose. Simon Tomlinson took first blood by answering that bagger – bombing and shark can all be preceded by the word carpet. Bonuses on existentialism provided a further 10 points. Simon Tomlinson took the next starter, on Pascal. That’s Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, and not Fran├žoise Pascal, the sultry siren from “Mind Your Language”. Bonuses on the island of Samos yielded only 5 points. Nina Grant knew that a term for novels such as “A la Recherce du Temps Perdu” is roman fleuve – French for river novel. She looked like she couldn’t quite believe it was right. Well it was. Documentaries of Werner Herzog brought 5 more points, but they didn’t know that Klaus Kinski had starred in “Fitzcarraldo” and “Nosferatu ( the 1970s remake)”. Simon Tomlinson won the buzzer race to say that a term for a piece of wood or stone placed over a door, fireplace or window is a lintel. I did think that a set of bonuses on US Presidents might offer me the chance of a full set, and I was right. Bangor managed just the last, but even so they had carved out a lead of 65 points as we went into the picture starter. We were shown the Beatus Map, an 8th century version of the Mappa Mundi. When asked for the modern name of the river highlighted on the Map Simon Tomlinson supplied the correct answer of the Nile. What’s more, the team went on to correctly identify all three places highlighted on the map for a full set of bonuses. When asked for the name of the structure said to have taken its name from a giant statue of Nero Fran Middleton buzzed early, and gave the answer of the Colossus. Ah, so close. Mark Stevens took a punt with the Colosseum, and was rewarded for his pains with bonuses on asexual reproduction in plants. They took one, and this was enough to give them a lead of 105 to -5. I think we all knew that King’s are much better than this score suggests, but they were being beaten to the buzzer comprehensively, hence the shutout. Time to throw caution to the winds, before JP issued the dreaded – come on, plenty of time to go.

Nina Grant continued where her team had left off , by answering that a welterweight comes between a lightweight and a middleweight. Well – in old money yes.Let’s ignore light welters, light middles and the rest for the sake of the question. The set of bonuses it brought were on Ford, the car manufacturer. Now, I know that I took Henry Ford as my first round specialist subject in 2007. but the fact is that Fordism had never entered into my revision. So that’s my excuse for not having it right. Bangor managed one bonus. A mathematics starter followed, and I said to the girls, who were in the front room with me while I was watching this morning, that James would have that. And he did too, before the question was finished. King’s were off the mark. Half the show remained, so nothing was impossible, but some kindly sets of bonuses would be appreciated. The first they earned wasn’t, being on artists born in the 1880s. Marc Chagall bought them another 5 points. Simon Tomlinson knew that the city of Bayonne gives its name to the bayonet. Computer Game designers brought two bonuses, and increased the scale of King’s task. For the music starter we were asked for the name of the Biblical figure after whom the oratorio we were listening to was named. Nobody knew that it was the St. Matthew Passion. The bonuses rolled over, and we had something about throwing balls in the air, and how high they’d go. Nobody had it. Neither did anyone know Joseph Brodsky, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978. It became a hat trick of unanswered starters when nobody could answer that Lord Carrington and Francis Pym had both been Foreign Secretary. Two starters in a row had seen Bangor coming in too early and losing 5 points. Well, to be fair, their buzzer blitzkrieg had brought them a healthy lead, so it was obviously the right tactic. James buzzed in early for the next starter, knowing something about the SI unit the second, and Caesium – we didn’t get the whole question, you see. This brought up the music bonuses, more pieces based on Biblical figures. This took their score up to 30, but the gap was still in three figures. James knew that one of the King George’s was glad to receive news of the death of his son Frederick, Prince of Wales, but he zigged with III, which allowed Nina Grant to zag with George II. The bonus set attached to this starter was on economics. Bangor only took one bonus, but then as long as they kept at even stevens on the starters they would be home and dry. Amber Ace took her first starter knowing that Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” was inspired by a sea crossing. Geometry brought King’s another 10 points, and the gap was now down to double figures. Bangor’s impressive Simon Tomlinson took the next starter on the pharynx. Fictional detectives brought them five points. For the second picture starter nobody recognised Caroline Herschel. Not surprised. If a question begins with “South Sudan . . . “ there’s an even money chance that the answer to the question will be Juba. Curtis Gallant buzzed in early with this answer, and he was right to do so. Pictures of influential British women scientists were unforgiving and yielded nothing. Adam came in early for the next starter with Project Guttenberg. The works of Thomas Paine gave them another 5 points, and a lead of 125. The match was won, but there were still a couple of minutes to go. Nina Grant knew that subluxation comes immediately after sublunary in the dictionary. They didn’t know any of the bonuses that followed on Physics. Didn’t matter. Nobody knew that a star with an unusually high velocity is a runaway star. Simon Tomlinson knew that Punch was subtitled the London Charivari. Bonuses on Indian Booker Prize winning authors provided them with nothing, but it really didn’t matter at this stage. Curtis Gallant knew that vigesimal means proceeding on intervals of 20. I thought it was a type of ointment. Fair enough. Creatures named after rivers only gave King’s time for 2 bonuses. At the bell Bangor had won comfortably with 195 to 70.

JP paid tribute to King’s performances throughout the series, and rightly so. James, very unlucky, but it just wasn’t your night. It has happened – and will continue to happen – to all of us. Bangor, and Adam, many congratulations. I wish you the very best of luck in the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP was in another just-getting-on-with-it mood last night. He spluttered slightly in disbelief when Nina Grant offered a speculative Fritz Lang for Klaus Kinski. “Fritz Lang? Fritz Lang!!”
Likewise with the question about throwing balls in the air he offered us another brief burst of disbelief when Amber Ace suggested the answer was 1 metre. “! metre?!” he expostulated, eyebrows reaching for the ceiling. Well, we can all do that when we’ve got the answers in front of us, Jez.
Adam received a telling off from JP when he buzzed in straight after an incorrect answer for the Pre Cambrian era, and offered Cambrian. “You should have let me finish the question!” he expostulated.
When he asked “What is an oscillator called when it is not oscillating in simple harmonic motion . . . “ Nina Grant offered, tongue in cheek, “Stationary?”, and a delayed chuckle caught him just as he was asking the next starter.

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

An extra weight carried in horseracing is called a welter.


Jack said...

Well, it's fair to say that Bangor's victory hear was well deserved, but it was perhaps a bit unfair on King's to lose by that big a margin. Once again, my commiserations to James and co, but they've done very well this series, and have proved a very popular team, especially on Twitter.

But very well done to Adam and co, and best of luck, once again, for the semis!

The stats: Simon Tomlinson got seven starters for Bangor, while James G. and Curtis Gallant got two each for King's. On the bonuses, Bangor made 15/39 with two penalties, King's made 7/14 with three penalties.

So, now we've finally reached the semis. U.C.L. vs New College first up, next week, and then Manchester vs Bangor the week after.

And then, the final. As I said earlier, whoever wins the title will deserve it.

jim360 said...

Not my night at all - as shown by two starters and one set of bonuses in particular.

George III was an educated guess, Fredricks and Georges belonging together in my head, though I didn't know the incident. So horrible that a decent stab should give Grant the answer, though she may have known already of course.

The ball in the air question was also gettable and indeed the method popped into my head immediately. In an awful mix-up though I remembered a version where "s" was being used for speed but I thought it was meaning distance and I couldn't sort out what had gone wrong in my head, and so another starter went begging.

Listening to that set of physics bonuses on harmonic motion was just torture. I know all those, why haven't I been asked them?! Thankfully I didn't scream "anharmonic" in frustration or anything stupid. After a night of being thrashed basically not because I was too slow to the buzzer but because I didn't seem to know any of the starters, having questions like that as a bonus set for the other team just felt so cruel. That's the way the questions fall...

Undoubtedly, though, a deserving win for Bangor who was the better team on the night. I think even if those things above had gone our way we'd still have lost, so I remember feeling well beaten rather than cruelly so. And a defeat due to simply being the worse team over a whole show doesn't feel quite so painful as a 5-point defeat. Maybe.

Good luck to Bangor in the semis!

BoiCymraeg said...

I knew Fritz Lang wasn't right (he was a director!), but nobody listened to me... mind you, I'd previously suggested that Hayao Miyazaki might have invented Super Mario.

"Thankfully I didn't scream "anharmonic" in frustration or anything stupid."

And deny us the opportunity to answer "stationary"? You did the right thing!

I'd been suggesting faceitious and silly answers (to maths/science bonus questions we didn't know) through the series, this was one of the only occasions Nina (Grant) listened to me... my personal favourite: for one question when the answer was supposed to be in terms of Omega; my suggestion? "Omega 3".

jim360 said...

I was thinking more about shouting it out after you'd said "Stationary"...

Londinius said...

Hi Guys

Bad luck Jim - and congratulations on your showing during the whole series - you did yourself proud, honestly, and can be very pleased that you were definitely a star of your team.

Congratulations Adam - no team from Wales has ever done better - and only Bangor have made it to the semis before. I wwish you the very best of retrospective luck.

Jack, I totally agree that we're going to have a worthy winner this year - mind you, in my experience we always do.

Looking forward to the semis

BoiCymraeg said...

It's a shame there are no hard stats for the Gascgoine era to see how we compare with other Welsh sides from earlier on.

No Welsh side has ever won the competition, but I remember some celebrity former contestant reminiscing about his experience to the effect of "Some Welsh theological college beat us in the semi final." Which, if true, would suggest that Lampeter or Trinity College Carmarthen (neither of which now exist) have made it to the finals.