Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Univerity Challenge - Round One - Match Eight

Keele v. Liverpool

JP began by telling us that Keele were series champions back in 1968, and this team went on to be runners up in the 40th anniversary re-united series. Fair enough. This year’s team consisted of Austin Haffenden, Rob Croton, David Sharpe, and their captain, Harriet Earle.

Liverpool have yet to win a series, although they have the distinction of being one of the universities to have fielded a team in the Christmas pro-sleb version of the show, as you might say. This year’s team were Katherine Monks, Daniel Jenkin-Smith, Luke Nugent and their captain Chris Spencer. Ok, let’s get on with it then.

Katherine Monks was very quickly in to take the first starter for Liverpool, knowing that there are 24 books in the Iliad. Fictional Universities provided the subject for the first set of bonuses, and brought them another 10 points. Katherine Monks followed up with her second starter, - who knew that there is a river in Turkey called the Batman? Not me. However I did know that a British Army officer’s personal servant has the same name. Bonuses on The English Constitution by Walter Bagehot were very hard if you hadn’t read it, and neither I nor Liverpool managed any of them. Daniel Jenkins-Smith knew that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva in 1712 to take the next starter. Three in a row for Liverpool, and Keele were yet to manage to elbow their way into the contest. Bonuses on the French Mathematician Fourier were to follow. 1 was taken. There was something about a triangle on the surface of the earth which I didn’t really get, but Katherine Monks took her third starter with 270 degrees. A set of bonuses on Nietzsche was well taken by Liverpool, which meant that going into the first picture starter Liverpool had a lead of 70 points. Katherine Monks, who was on fire at this early stage of the competition, identified the 2012 US election state of Virginia, which fell to the Democrats. Three more of the same followed, and three more were taken. The lead was now at 95. Coledocholithiasis is a mouthful, but JP had hardly finished saying it before Luke Nugent buzzed in identify it as the medical term for gall stones. Which had the effect of helping Liverpool achieve the rare feats of breaking through the 100 point barrier a) before the 10 minute mark, and b) before their opponents had scored. This earned the Liverpool team a set of bonuses on Raphael – that’s the Renaissance painter, not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but they couldn’t answer them. This meant that at the 10 minute mark Liverpool led by 105 to nil.

There’s a fine line between a great early buzz, and one which is fractionally too early, and Luke Nugent crossed this line when asked for the other name of the Jewish Feast of Lights. This lost 5, and allowed Keele a free run at the question, and skipper Harriet Earle did the honours with Hanukkah. For their pains they earned a set of bonuses on bacteriology. They took 2.I knew anguillae are eels, but for the teams, and any quizzer watching, I’d guess that the big clue was the mention of the Sargasso Sea. It was certainly enough for Luke Nugent, who supplied the correct answer of eel, even though he looked as if he thought it was probably wrong. The first UC special set of bonuses followed. Each one was a clue to a 4 letter word which was also the first part of the standard English rendition of the name of a European country – hence – fortified wine = port = Portugal. They managed 2, missing out on Mold in Flintshire for Moldova. The next starter was on Shakespeare. Now, if you hear that it’s a play based on The History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth, then you know it’s either Lear or Cymbeline. Rob Croton of Keele was unfortunate to zig with Lear, allowing Daniel Jenkin-Smith to zag with Cymbeline. When things don’t run for you, they really don’t run. A set of bonuses followed on Edward Tufte. I think I was a member of his club when I was a kid, but I digress. In all seriousness, I haven’t a clue who he is or was, but I loved his quote that All power corrupts, but Powerpoint corrupts absolutely. Liverpool took one bonus, and so to the music starter. Luke Nugent recognized the work of J.S.Bach, and this together with the one bonus composer they recognized was enough to take their score to 150. At this stage JP could restrain himself no longer, and he administered the kiss of death to the Keele team with the words,”Keele, there’s still plenty of time to come back”. Ouch. It’s bad enough trailing by so much, without having that little reminder thrown at you. Still, maybe it had the desired effect, since Harriet Earle took the next starter for Keele, knowing that the colour in the title of a 19th century novel by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – or Charlotte Who? as she is known in Lam Towers – is yellow. A good early buzz that. Bonuses on history and poetry weren’t at all easy, and they managed one. Katherine Monks buzzed in too early for the next starter, and lost five. Keele were unable to capitalize, not knowing Thales. Not surprised. The next starter was something about microfarads. A bit of ointment will clear them up mate, boom-boom-I’m-here-all-week-ladies-and –gentlemen. The answer was 3. I didn’t get the question, and nobody got the answer, so let’s move on. Not the least deterred by her previous false start Katherine Monks was the first to buzz in with the answer that a list of items all begin with Kha. The Fifa world cup provided the bonuses, of which they took one. It didn’t matter. The game, as a competitive match looked dead and buried, I’m sorry to say, and the only questions still to be resolved looked to be how points Liverpool would rack up by the end, and whether Keele could rally to three figure respectability. The year of the Great Reform Act – 1832 – provided Katherine Monks with what I think was her 7th starter. Impressive performance. A really nice set on creatures in The Lord of the Rings provided ten more points to take their score on the 20 minute mark to 180, against Keele’s 30.

The second picture starter showed an illustration from the Canterbury Tales. Seeing the names Palamon and Arcite Harriet Earle was able to buzz in quickly to identify the Knight’s Tale. Three harder ones followed. They answered ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ for the first two, which weren’t, but not for the last one, which was. If you’re going to be successful on UC, there are times when you have to anticipate and go for it before the end of the question. Having heard the words ‘algebraic aid’, ‘toy’ and ‘1977’ you had to fancy that the words ‘Rubik’s cube’ would not be far shy of the answer. That’s what Luke Nugent did to earn the points. Danish computer scientists didn’t sound promising, but they managed one of the bonuses. Daniel Jenkin-Smith knew that ‘L’Ancien Regime’ was written by de Toqueville. This earned bonuses on actors and actresses born in 1913, and the films they appeared in. They didn’t manage any of these – they’re all far too young to have seen most of those films. Now coming back to the point about buzzing early, as soon as you’ve heard ‘observatory’ and ‘Cheshire’ you just have to slam your hand on the buzzer and give the answer ‘Jodrell Bank’. That’s what Katherine Monks did. What seemed like a fairly simple set of bonuses on French was dispatched over the pavilion. Katherine Monks, now back up to full speed again, was the first to identify the five letter word referring to the shields of Zeus and Athena as aegis. Two bonuses brought their score to 250, and it was just possible that with 3 minutes to go they might reach the psychologically important score of 300. Daniel Jenkin-Smith knew that Edgar Allan Poe died in 1849. 260 points. The second UC special set of the night, which asked for words that can be made using any of the letters from the word perjury. 2 were taken. 270 points. Luke Nugent knew that two of the counties whose names appear in the names of National Parks in England and Wales are Yorkshire and Pembrokeshire. This was followed by another UC special set, with words which form part of the names of Commonwealth countries. Only one was taken, for 285 points. Poor Austin Haffenden buzzed in early with e answer pedology for the next starter, but JP had only asked for the first 4 letters. No cigar, five points lost. This led Katherine Monks to supply Pedo, and earn the bonuses, this time on Physics. Only one was needed to get to 300, but there was only time for one, and they didn’t get it.

The final score was 295 to 40. For once JP did have some words of real consolation, telling the viewers at home that Keele were still a good team who had scored highly on their test papers to get into the competition in the first place. Well said. As for Liverpool, well, this was a highly impressive performance. Exactly how good they are is difficult to judge. They won the buzzer race hands down, but then Keele – sorry Keele, but I have to say it – really weren’t very fast on the buzzer at all. But Liverpool will certainly be up amongst the favourites to get to the quarter finals at the least. Good luck.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

In one of the bacteriology bonuses when asked for a chemical substance used for this or that (stop me if I get too technical) Keele offered ammonia. JP seemed to find this very funny, considering the answer was iodine. I don’t know, I can understand him getting indignant when they get literature ones wrong, but I really don’t think he’s got any right to do it with Science questions.

I’m sure JP is only trying to be nice, and to encourage a team when he says that there’s still time to come back, but because he only tends to do it when a team is floundering it can’t do a great deal to help them raise their spirits.

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

The River Batman is a tributary of the Tigris


Jack said...

Well, I definitely think it was a deserved big win for Liverpool, but an undeserved big loss for Keele as well. A while ago, I found a comment online expressing sympathy for those who go out in the first round with such a low score, as at least, if it happens in the second, you have proved yourself in another match.

That said, I am not calling out Liverpool as potential winners yet; I think we should wait and see them play a stronger team and see how they cope then. Their performance on Monday night, as you say, could just have been down to Keele being a bit slow on the buzzer.

On the bonuses, Keele managed 3/9 with one penalty. Liverpool got 25/53 with two penalties, and Miss Monks ended the show with nine starters to her name. A good individual performance that, though her collagues provided good support as well.

Next week, an Oxbridge match between Balliol of Oxford and Peterhouse of Cambridge. And then the week after, York take on Bath.

Cromarty(IV) said...

Well, this certainly was a match of extremes!

If I had been watching this a few years ago, I would probably have described Keele as a weak team, as an uneducated commentator might do. Now, especially since I’ve been through the UC applications process and got past approximately 100 other teams to get on the show, I would never use that terminology. Nobody gets into the final 28 teams without showing great general knowledge under the pressure of highly limited time. What was weak on this show was Keele’s performance; they just seemed a bit too quiet on the buzzers to really accumulate any points. They are by no means the first team that this has happened to, and they won’t be the last, but the old saying “it wasn’t your night” seems appropriate here.

That said, I found the questions on this show to be a challenging set, and I was struck mute for most of the time. I thus extend my congratulations to Liverpool, especially Miss Monks, for getting all the way to 295 points in the face of such questions. I was willing them to break 300 in the final minutes, but it wasn’t to be. With 9 starters to her name, Miss Monks is now this series’ greatest performer on the buzzer, overtaking the “7 Club”, which includes such talents as Ewan MacAulay and Filip Drnovsek Zorko. Nevertheless, I think Liverpool may struggle against a team who is really on fire, because their bonus conversion rate was less than half. We shall see.

As Jack has pointed out, Liverpool’s “Name this actor who was born in 1913: Bernard Cribbins” moment was the comic highlight of the match. The unfortunate thing is that Cribbins was in the film Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD, alongside Peter Cushing’s non-canonical portrayal of the Doctor! I’m a very big Doctor Who fan, as is Toby Hadoke, who was warming up the audiences before each match, so I couldn’t let that answer go unmentioned!

And Londinius, I’m afraid I have to disagree with your view that Paxo shouldn’t scoff at ridiculous answers to science questions. He may not be a scientist by trade, but a blatantly ridiculous answer is a blatantly ridiculous answer all the same, whatever the subject of the question may be. I’m not a biologist by trade, but I knew that the answer to that bonus question couldn’t have been ammonia. Two weeks ago, when Manchester identified the “chemistry of reacting amounts” as spectroscopy when the answer was stoichiometry, he might have berated them heavily – spectroscopy is the study of how electromagnetic radiation interacts with matter, so it was miles away from the correct answer! I feel that any and all ridiculous answers given on UC should be worth being laughed at/with, because we all know what Paxo’s like (if any prospective contestant really doesn’t want to risk being put down by the great man, they shouldn’t be applying for the show at all), and we all know that these contestants do know an awful lot else.

I’m looking forward to a good Oxbridge clash this coming week! I have an intriguing, tenuous link to Balliol College, so I cannot wait to see how they will fare.