Wednesday, 31 July 2013

University Challenge - Round One - Match Three

Trinity Cambridge v. Christ Church Oxford

Well, if we were still waiting for fireworks in this series, then an Oxford v. Cambridge match was as likely a place to find them as any. Trinity won the original series once in 1974, and then 10 years later they won the first JP series. This year’s vintage were Matthew Ridley, Filip Drnovsek Zorko, Richard Freeland and Ralph Morley, the captain. Christ Church, Oxford didn’t win during the Bamber era, but did win as recently as 2008. They were represented by George Greenwood, Andreas Capstack, Philip Ostrowski and captain Ewan Macauley. On with the show.

When asked the name of the fifth sons of both George V and Henry II Ralph Morley was the first in with the correct answer of John. A set of bonuses on the philosopher Epictetus were all dispatched to the boundary, and even at this early stage Trinity were looking like a class act. Filip Drnovsek Zorko knew that a five letter term for a colourless volatile liquid, and a substance once thought to fill the empty spaces in the Universe would be ether.A nice UC set followed, on clues to pairs of people who shared the same surname. So, for example – the founder of the Quakers, and the winner of a backstroke gold medal in London 2012= Fox. Another full set. Five minutes gone, and already Trinity had 50 points on the board. Matthew Ridley buzzed in very early on the next starter, giving the correct answer of the Broken Windows theory. I wouldn’t have minded hearing a little bit more about that. Finally Trinity showed some weakness by only taking one bonus on scientific diagrams. Which was one more bonus than was answered form the Clark sofa, I might add. A great shout from Ralph Morley took the next starter, on the poet Catullus. Normal service was resumed as the team took a full set of bonuses on film directors and opera. The picture starter showed a map of 4 places in England all sharing the same suffix. Ewan Macauley buzzed first to break Christ Church’s duck with Hampton. Of the bonus set of 3 more sets of places linked by a common suffix they failed to add to their score. Still, they were under way. Matthew Ridley recognized a description of JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy ( quote from a pupil – “Where’s the magic”?) Bonuses on world languages were all taken, and so at the 10 minute mark you have to say that Trinity weren’t just looking the most likely winners of this match, they were looking like most likely winners of the whole series. One of the most impressive opening spells I can remember for several years. They led by 115 to 10.

Ralph Morley was the first one to buzz in with the answer that the art collection held in Somerset House is the Courtauld. Once again they showed that they are human by only managing one bonus on Landseer. Now, brace yourselves. I knew a science starter – that the phenomenon involving the loss of electrical resistance at low temperatures is superconductivity. Ewan Macauley knew it too. This gave Christ Church a shot at Geometry. They took two bonuses. Rather surprisingly, given the quality of the two teams involved in this match, neither knew that Judy Garland sang the Trolley Song in the film “Meet Me In St. Louis”. The irrepressible and highly impressive Ralph Morley knew that the Roman General possibly poisoned in Syria in 19 AD was Germanicus ( you know him – Derek Jacobi’s brother.) Another UC special set on words that are often confused with each other followed. For example infer and imply. 2 correct answers brought up the 150 points for Trinity, and raised the possibility that we could possibly see our first 300 pointer for some time. The music starter played us a wee snatch of Pink Floyd before Filip Drnovsek Zorko buzzed in with the right answer. More pieces of music featuring a harmonium followed, with the bands who they accompanied being what was required for the answers. Trinity managed two of them. Asked how many different University Challenge teams could be formed from seven students Ewan Macauley correctly worked out that it would be 35. Bonuses on Deviations in the International Date Line saw them take their score to 50. Filip Drnovsek Zorko knew that novels by Stephen King and Zamyatin both had personal pronouns as titles. Astronomical telescopes provided them with another 5 points. Ralph Morley knew that the language with no official status which is closely related to Cornish is Breton. It’s not dissimilar to Welsh either, I noticed during a stay in St. Malô a good few years ago. Now, continuing the works of fiction whose names bear a word from the NATO phonetic alphabet theme of recent weeks, this time we had films. They didn’t know Une Étrange Aventure du Lemmy Caution, aka Alphaville, (one wonders whether it was big in Japan – one for 80s music fans there) but took the other 2 to break the 200 points barrier. At the 20 minute mark they led by 205 to 50, and the 300 pointer was still very much on.

Ewan Macauley knew what the colour of a particular solution n of ph value 9.6 would be – pink. This earned bonuses on Physics, and took a full set in short order. The second picture starter showed us a couple from European legend. Ewan Macauley took an unsuccessful stab at Abelard and Heloise, but Filip Drnovsek Zorko took a successful one with Tristan and Isolde. More of the same followed, but ironically Abelard and Heloise was the only one they managed. Ralph Morley buzzed in for the next, correctly identifying Lance-Corporal Jones from Dads Army as the recipient of a number of medals, including the Sudan medal. A set of bonuses on Scottish towns or villages brought another full set. Filip Drnovsek Zorko chanced his arm that Dutch metal would be another alloy of copper and zinc, and he was right to do so. Bonuses on Science and the Arts in the 18th Century saw them answer two of the required decades correctly.35 points required for 300. Ewan Macauley, who can still be pleased with his own personal performance in this show, knew that the two colours of the flag of Somalia are blue and white. A full set of bonuses on words ending with – x brought up their 100 points. Ewan Macauley also knew that the NASA probe Dawn was sent to study Ceres and Vesta. Bonuses on Cell Biology provided another full set, and took them to 125 points, and held out just the possibility of setting a repechage score. That man Macauley knew that the Lord Speaker – formerly Chancellor – of the House of Lords sits on the woolsack. A third consecutive full set took them to 150. Make no mistake, this Christ Church team are a very good outfit in their own right. Filip Drnovsek Zorko recognized the title of a work by Shelley. Bonuses on people linked by having the same three letters at the start of their surnames gave Trinity a full set, which brought them to 290. One sensed the gongmeister was flexing his muscles in readiness at this point, but there was just enough for Filip Drnovsek Zorko to answer that FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, which brought up the 300 points, and that was it.

Cards on the table, we’ve been waiting for a UC show this good for a long time. It was good to see JP pay tribute to Christ Church at the end – I agree with him when he says that he hopes this score will be enough to bring them back. To score that well while being blitzed on the buzzer by a rampant Trinity team suggests that they will give many other teams all the problems they can handle. As for Trinity – well! It’s not fair to lay the mantle of Champions in Waiting upon any team’s shoulders after just one performance, but that, gentlemen, was extremely impressive – one of the finest first round performances we have seen in quite a while. Well played.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

So impressive was the performance of Trinity that when neither team could answer about “Meet Me In St. Louis” our hero was moved to make the observation, “At last we’ve found a chink in your armour.”

Interesting Fact That I Did Not Already Know Of The Week

Dutch metal is an alloy of copper and zinc.


Anonymous said...

Hello! This is Filip from the Trinity team. I've been following your blog since late last series but thought I'd wait until now to stop lurking. :)

Thank you for writing these and for being so kind to us! I've found your reviews very entertaining over the last few months. I only hope we can live up to expectations in our second match!

Londinius said...

Hi Filip!

How nice of you to take the time and trouble to comment. Many congratulations on a fantastic team performance. It was made all the more impressive by the quality of your opposition - as I said that Christ Church team were a quality outfit in their own right. I look forward to your future performance(s) with great interest.

jim360 said...

I think we've seen three of the best individual quiz performances on UC for a long time in a single episode. Bad luck for Christ Church that two of those were on the other team, then!

I've had the pleasure of quizzing with and against both of the Trinity College players who won this game, Morley and Filip. Very fine quizzers, far better than I'll ever be (although having said that I did beat Filip in a pub quiz once!), and it showed in this episode.

Hoping for many more fine performances from them to come.

Londinius said...

Well said Jim. Don't underestimate the contributions of Matthew Ridley and Richard Freedland as well, though. Matthew had a couple of good starters, and bonuses as you know are a whole team effort. As we've seen in the past, even teams with a Trimble or a Guttenplan have games where they need the other team members to contribute heavily as well.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding falsely modest, I do think the questions in this match favoured Ralph and I (he got two classics questions, I got my favourite band and one of my favourite novels). We're a more balanced team than this performance makes us seem, which I think will be more apparent in the next match!

(I think my favourite moment of the match was Richard going "well, we probably need to divide one thing by the other, and with a telescope you probably want to make things bigger... so nine?")

ACMW said...

Many thanks for your kind words! I was very lucky with this match: I'd been writing an essay on Catullus the day before, so I'd have been embarrassed if I hadn't got that one. We watched the John's vs Reading match while waiting for our slot, and I for one wouldn't have got anywhere near as many starters in that one (or, indeed, in the Queen's vs Aberdeen match which opened the series). As Filip says, Matt and Richard do come into their own in our next match; many years ago, Richard was on a 'Junior Schools' Challenge' team which absolutely demolished a team captained by yours truly, and you'll see that star quality fairly soon!

Jack said...

Yes, well done once again Filip and co on a storming performance, and a well deserved victory. But bad luck to Christ Church on getting such a tough draw, and getting through to the repechage would be very fair to them. The quality of the match can also be seen in the bonus conversions: Trinity got 30/42, and Christ Church managed 16/21. Both excellent stats.

When will we see another match as good as this, I wonder?

Two more Cambridge teams coming up in the next two weeks: next week, Queens' College play Durham, and Clare College take on Loughborough the week after.

jim360 said...

Word on the street is that this is a year where we'll see a lot more Cambridge Colleges than usual. Wonder how that happened -- no doubt the media will have a field day.

Oh, Ralph, stop spoiling the surprise for us! Or if you are going to, at least let me know if there is a Bleak House question... :)*

Looking forward to the next match, then. Set the series alight, anyway.

*Explanation for the Bleak House thing: In practising for a quiz I was moaning about how the questions seemed to be on Arts and Books, and how useless I am at those. Then I got a lucky question about "someone spontaneously combusts" and guessed that it might be Bleak House (a book about which I know nothing other than that someone spontaneously combusts). It then came up in the quiz we were practising for the next day!*

Unknown said...

Hi guys, this is Ewan from the Christ Church team. I finally got round to watching this and if felt just as crushing this time round. Trinity (especially Filip and Ralph) put in a stunning performance.
Thanks for the kind words about us; I do think we were a bit unlucky with the draw, having to face such a blitzkrieg in our first match. That said, I'm very much looking forward to seeing Trinity playing again, and hopefully catching a glimpse of the legendary Freeland form which won our team the inter-house science general knowledge competition!
And @Filip, that "Dutch Metal" thing was a guess wasn't it? I've never heard of it before or since...

Anonymous said...

Yup, a complete guess. I mean, I guess I knew vaguely that zinc was a fairly common metal in alloys. But that was it. :P

You were very good yourself, Ewan, and I really hope you made it through to the highest-scoring losers playoff!

Londinius said...

Hi Ralph, and Hi Ewan

Congratulations on both of your performances! Your match was the subject of a conversation at the rugby club quiz last night, and all of it was complimentary. Best of luck to you both in upcoming matches.

Cromarty(IV) said...

The best match so far this series by a comfortable margin! Here’s hoping it sets the tone for the next 34 weeks.

I remember reading Exeter University contestant Jacob Funnell’s account of his matches in the 2008-09 series, in which he describes the fear that Gail Trimble’s Corpus Christi, Oxford team was striking through the hearts of her opponents. Trinity’s 300 points were massive news in the contestants’ hotel and in the studios just before I went to film my team’s first-round match, and after hearing the news, I knew exactly how Funnell must have felt! This is definitely the mark of a fantastic team, so well done to Trinity College. Their rapid surge to 90 points is the best first few minutes I can remember watching.

Well done to Christ Church, too, for mustering up 150 points in the face of such opposition! If they can manage that many points against a team strong enough to score 300, they should be taken very seriously. I hope we’ll be seeing them again as well.

Unknown said...

Trinity Cambridge look to me like potential winners - Ralph Morley a very good captain

Londinius said...

Hi Cromarty(IV)
Might I be cheeky and ask which team you represent(ed)?

Hi Rare Dino

They look a very good team indeed. But I'm not going to jinx them at this stage by predicting how well they are going to do.

Cromarty(IV) said...

Hi Londinius,

I'm on the University of Southampton's team. You'll be able to put a face to the name in a few weeks' time.

My nom de plume is a reference to a certain broadcasting institution which I've come to love since getting the call to appear on UC, and it also contains a sort-of hint as to what subject I'm studying.

Londinius said...

Good Lord! Don't say that you can do a degree on the Shipping Forecast nowadays?!

Sorry - bad joke. I wish Southampton all the best of (retrospective) luck, and will certainly await your first round with interest.