Saturday, 27 July 2013

University Challenge - Round 1 - Match 2

St. John’s, Cambridge v. Reading

St. John’s, Cambridge are old hands at UC, although they have never before quite managed to win the series. The St. John’s team opted to introduce themselves by their christian names alone, which is certainly nice and friendly, and they were Jarrett Huang, Casey Swerner, Robin Younghusband and their captain Anna Stansbury. Reading have never won UC either, and hoping to bring that state of affairs to an end were Michael Dunleavy, Christopher White, Luke Tudge, and skipper Peter Burgess. That’s enough for now, let’s get on with the show.

Both teams were a little slow off the mark to answer about Highgate Cemetery’s most famous customer, but when the buzzer race did finally get under way it was won by Luke Tudge, who answered correctly with Karl Marx. My mother reckoned that he is actually buried next to a person named Spencer, but I’ve never got round to checking out if this is true. The first set of bonuses were all on politicians born in 1913, and they managed two, missing out only on Menachem Begin. Reading maintained their confident start, when they captain Peter Burgess realized that if the two word phrase used by Kofi Annan was more famously associated with the Queen, then it must be annus horribilis. Bonuses on bodily processes saw them once again miss the first and take the second and third. Luke Tudge took his second starter, with the matched pair of words Elbe and Elba. Almost inevitably the set of bonuses on clerics in literature saw them miss the first, and take the next two. It has to be said that these 20 point increments were pushing their score up nicely, and they had racked up 60 altogether without reply from St. John’s. The first picture starter showed us a map of California, and asked the teams to identify a city at the head of Silicon Valley. Neither team knew the way to San Jose, which was the answer, and so the bonuses rolled over. This one asked for the 4 letters which started words meaning a tuba-like instrument – a pleasant word or expression substituted for something harsher – and at this point Anna Stansbury interrupted correctly with Euph – to open the St. John’s account. The picture bonuses showed them three more San Joses in Central or South America, and asked them to identify the country. This provided us with the first full set of the series, in what showed every sign of becoming a quality contest. Christopher White took his first starter for Reading with the U2 spy plane – which apparently still hasn’t found what it’s looking for. Sorry. Bonuses on Italian cinema passed them by. Nonetheless it had been a very good first ten minutes for Reading, who led by 70 to 25.

Anna Stansbury knew that if a questio0n contains the words ‘festival’ – ‘ lights’ and ‘October’ then Diwali is never going to be a bad answer. This timely interruption brought up bonuses on a group of philosophers. St. John’s managed two about the Vienna School. Peter Burgess took the next starter with the anagrammatical Ohms and Mohs. Bonuses on Spanish Conquistadores followed. Every answer that Reading gave was the name of a conquistador, but unfortunately not the right one for the right answer, and no bonuses were taken.Christopher Whiet took his second starter recognizing Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Good shout. The bonuses were on excerpts from other pieces of music used in the Opening Ceremony of London 2012. They knew all 3 pieces, but not who composed the music of Jerusalem, or the Dambusters March. It didn’t really matter, since it brought the 100 up for Reading anyway. Neither team knew that the mythical creature linking the unlikely pairing of Shakespeare and E. Nesbit is a phoenix – and the Turtle , - and the Carpet. Lovely UC special followed. Which two prime numbers when multiplied together give the total number of kilometres in the two events in which Mo Farah won gold in London 2012? Well, I quickly worked out that 10 and 5 are 15, and 3 x 5 gives the same answer. Anna Stansbury let Christopher White have a go first, but when he gave the wrong answer she buzzed in with the right one. A fascinating set on Astronomical errors followed. I’ll be honest, the only one I knew was that the lines, or canalli on Mars were put forward by the astronomer Schiapparelli – whose granddaguther, I think, was Elsa, the ‘shocking pink’ designer. St. John’s did not manage any of these. Anna Stansbury took another starter, knowing full well that your atrium might be in your hall or your heart. A good UC set on calendar dates where the number of the day is the same as the number of the month followed. They took one of a tricky set. The next starter contained the words ‘controversial novel’, and without waiting I shouted “The Satanic Verses”. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Luke Tudge did, and earned his team bonuses on zoology.2 were taken, which meant that Reading still led at the 20 minute mark, by 120 to 70. Reading still had the whip hand, but St. John’s had at least shown their ability, and put themselves in a position in which a late spurt could still be enough for them.

For the second picture starter JP showed a little leniency accepting Peter Burgess’ answer of Juan Manuel Barroso for Jose Manuel Barroso. The three bonuses showed other prominent European politicians. They managed one with Baroness Ashton. Spoon, direct and roller-lever were all types of bicycle brakes, as Peter Burgess knew for the next starter. Cities on the Indian subcontinent whose names end with – bad - . The one they managed took their score up to 150, and with only a few minutes to go it seemed that they had surely passed over the event horizon. Robin Younghusband correctly identified leviathan, behemoth, cherub and jubilee as having been derived from Hebrew. Two bonuses on novels whose titles contain words from the NATO phonetic alphabet – a lovely set that – brought St. John’s to the brink of triple figures. When Michael Dunleavy correctly answered that Michael Faraday inaugurated the annual Christmas Lectures it meant that each member of the Reading team had answered at least one starter correctly. Members of Parliament representing constituencies in Scotland brought them a couple more correct answers. Asked in MAths, what is the lowest common multiple of all of the prime numbers between one and six my despairing stab in the dark with 30 turned out to be right when Anna Stansbury buzzed in with the correct answer. By way of an encore I took all three questions on metals, of which St. John’s took 1. Never mind, they were now into triple figures and respectability, whatever happened. Robin Younghusband took his second starter, knowing that Macedonia starts with 4 letters which denote a symbol of the authority of the House of Commons. Now, some readers might be kind enough to say that they remember me taking Henry Ford as a specialist subject in the first round of Mastermind 2007(SOBM), so I was delighted to see St. John’s receive a set of bonuses on the man himself. They were what I would call very fair questions – nothing to really catch you out, and St. John’s took the first. Michael Dunleavy took his second starter, knowing that the John Steinbeck novel about brothers, one of whom is called Caleb is “East of Eden”. Bonuses on Hermes prevented the team from adding to their score, but it was no matter. Reading ended by winning on 180 to 120.

Reading were, I thought, pretty good value for their win. A good buzzer team, although I don’t think they converted any full sets of bonuses. Good luck next round. Well played both teams.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP allowed Peter Burgess a little leniency on the Barroso question. Other than that I have absolutely nothing left to report. A little disappointing for seasoned JP connoisseurs.

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

Cassini once identified a moon of Venus. Unfortunately for him, Venus has no moons.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Well, this was certainly a better match than last week's. Both teams seemed more impressive than last week's. As someone said over on JOW, it's a shame that St John's weren't drawn against either of last week's teams, as they may well have beaten both.

But Reading gave a great performance, and their victory is well deserved.

On the bonus conversion rates, St John's managed 10/21, and Reading 14/33. Not terribly good, but respectable.

So, Monday's match is an Oxbridge fixture between Trinity College Cambridge and Christ Church Oxford. And the week after, Durham play another Cambridge college, Queens'.