Saturday, 21 September 2013

University Challenge - Round One - Match Ten

York v. Bath

Sorry about the lateness of the review again. I do manage to just about find time to watch the show once during the week on the iplayer, but I like the first time I watch the show to be just for my own pleasure, to give me the chance to play along at home. So anyway, enough of excuses. The first of this heat’s teams, York, comprised of Greg Carrick, Brian Morley, Laura Kemp, and captain Jeremy Harris. Their opponents were Bath, and they were Lily Morris, Callum Woof, Jack Davies and captain Simon Love. York have played every year since 2004, and this is Bath’s 3rd consecutive year.

It’s a few years since I’ve heard an ‘el Nino’ question, so it was nice to see this venerable question make an appearance as the first starter, which Brian Morley was very happy to take on the volley. What followed was an early UC special set on people with linked names – the first’s surname being the second’s given name – for example – Jane AUSTEN Chamberlain. York were perfectly happy with this and took a full set. An ancient order of knighthood and the emblem of the Encyclopaedia Britannica are linked by a thistle. Sadly Simon Love didn’t get it, suggesting a red cross, but Brian Morley took his second consecutive starter with thistle. The camera cut to Simon Love throwing a hand up in frustration with himself. Well, it’s better to buzz when you have an idea, than to wait until you’re certain and get beaten on the buzzer. Not a lot of consolation, I know. Vegetables as described by Antonio Carluccio provided just one correct answer, but they certainly weren’t an easy set. The ancient city linking Caxton’s first printed book, and a sergeant in “Far From The Madding Crowd” saw skipper Jeremy Harris supply the third correct answer to a starter in a row from York with Troy. Always worth answering to an ‘ancient city’ question, even if you don’t have a Scooby. The physical chemistry of water sounded like the title of a mid 70s prog rock album, but was actually the subject of the next bonus set. Surprisingly I actually got one of these – sublimation is a bit of an old chestnut. A full set from York earned them a rarely awarded ‘well done’ from the great man. The first picture starter showed an area on a map of England where a foodstuff on the EU’s protected food name scheme is produced. I was in two minds whether it would be Stilton cheese or Melton Mowbray Pork pies – I did think the areas overlapped. It was the pork pies, and Jeremy Harris knew it. More areas yielded another full set. I’m not sure that I completely understood the palaeontology starter that followed. It was something about something vanishing from the fossil record than appearing later. Brian Morley understood it though, and he supplied the correct answer of Elvis. Bonuses on the Star Trek Universe provided another 10 points. This completed that rarity, a complete shut out for the first ten minutes, as York led by 110 – 0

Callum Woof ensured that Bath would not be completely shut out in the second ten minutes, by answering the chemistry question with ‘molecule’. Bonuses on Seneca – or should that be Senecae? – yielded one. Never mind, off the mark now at least. Showing fallibility for once Brian Morley buzzed in too early on the chestnutty ‘le Douanier’ but Simon Love couldn’t capitalize with Rousseau. A real buzzer race question for the next starter asked which letter you add to a word meaning not on time, to make a word meaning a source of rubber. If you add X to late you get, well, you can see it, I’m sure. Greg Carrick did, anyway. Going through the early day motions brought them another full set. A list of titles of paintings in the Rakes Progress series by Hogarth ( he taught my great, great, great, great grandfather to draw – true story) was recognized first by Jeremy Harris, and this brought York a set on astronomy. These can be a little hit or miss for me, and so I was pleased with 2, the same number as answered by York. The music starter brought us a little bit of the theme to Il Buono, Il Brutto e Il Cattivo, or The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and asked for the name of the composer, Ennio Morricone. I must say that I was amused to see the iplayer subtitles describe it as , and I quote “HOWLING SOUND”! Jeremy Harris earned three more Morricone tunes for his team, and they managed one of them. A second bout of encouragement from Jp galvanized Callum Woof to answer Aslan correctly to a question about a quote. I suspect that they weren’t overjoyed to be given a set of bonuses on ballet. After answering the first two incorrectly Lily Morris suggested the correct answer of Ballet Rambert, but the team passed. As has been noted before, when things don’t run for you, they really don’t run. Neither team could answer a question on focal lengths – not surprised. Neither knew a slightly easier question, that Mary McAleese was the first woman to succeed a woman head of state. Callum Woof stopped the rot, knowing that Lombok is an island of Indonesia. Exiled rulers saw the team throw away another bonus, not answering the Shah of Iran because they didn’t know his name, even though that would have done. They managed the other two, though. Greg Carrick was the first to recognize a description of an arachnid for the next starter. Bonuses on a geologist brought one more correct answer. By this, the twenty minute mark the game was already over, as York led by 180 to 45. The only questions left were academic, namely how many could they score before the gong?

Brian Morely identified Charles Lindbergh in the second picture starter. His team only managed the Montgolfier Brothers out of three more sets of aviation pioneers. After an incorrect buzz from Bath , York couldn’t identify the word derived from the Hebrew for ram’s horn. Jack Davies knew that the website taking its name from a fictional family created by William Faulkner is Fair enough. Bonuses on Shakespeare’s Henry VIII were gettable with a knowledge of either the play, or the history, but not easy, and with Bath’s fortune still proving outrageously bad they didn’t get them. Throwing caution to the wind Callum Woof buzzed too early on the next question about a planet in the solar system, and watched Brian Morley supply the correct answer of Mercury. A set of bonuses on figs promised little but delivered another full house. UC old favourite John Stuart Mill ( who reportedly on half a pint of shandy was particularly ill) gave Brian Morley another starter, and York another set of bonuses, this time on Mathematics. They managed one. Given the names of three regions of the homelands of a European people it was almost inevitable that it would be one of the York players to buzz in first with a correct punt at the Basques, and it was Jeremy Harris who did so. Bonuses on statues brought a full set in short order. Callum Woof buzzed in with the anagrams molar and moral for the next starter. Bonuses on 19th century railways brought one correct answer. Jack Davies knew that Heidelberg is Germany’s oldest institution of learning, and for the first time in the contest Bath had managed two consecutive starters. Bonuses on novels written in 1913 provided no further points. Greg Carrick knew that a number given in binary worked out at 63 in decimal. That was that. At the end of the contest York had 270 to Bath’s 70.

Scant consolation to you, Bath, but York do seem to be a very good team. When you can’t beat a team to the buzzer for the starters, then it’s very difficult, and that happened to Bath in this show. As for York, well, that was certainly impressive. There seems to be a wide range of knowledge within the team, and you never know, they could well have an extended run within this year’s competition.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP found it difficult to contain his enthusiasm for this York team. When Jeremy Harris correctly identified the ‘rhubarb triangle’ he couldn’t help himself from giving out a second ‘well done’ in as many minutes. He then proceeded to give the kiss of death to Bath by telling them that there was plenty of time left yet. Being told this is by JP is bad enough – because he only says it when one team looks like being overwhelmed. Saying it before ten minutes is up is adding injury to insult.

Brian Morley’s answers to the first two Star Trek bonuses led our hero to level the accusation, in tone reminiscent of Matthew Hopkins, “Are you a real Trekkie? . . . You are!” Thus cowed he didn’t answer the third, which moved our hero to say “Astonishing!” Now, if he had arched an eyebrow and said “Fascinating, captain.“ now that would have been a response.
Mind you, he wasn’t by any means finished in this show yet. When a question asked about early day motions in Parliament he added,” It’s completely fatuous, but that’s what it’s called.” This was followed almost immediately with his comment on Mohammad Sarwar’s early day motion in 2009 to recognize Glasgow as the birthplace of Chicken Tikka Masala, “They pay public money for this!” Well, quite.
I’m not sure I can remember JP ever issuing the ‘there’s still time to come back’ coup de grace twice to the same team in the same show, but he did it to Bath when they trailed by over 150 points. Talk about kicking a team when they were down.
Actually talking about that, he finished off saying to them,”We never really got a chance to see what you were made of, Bath” – yes Jez – I thought – now leave it there. But no, he kept on , rubbing in that salt with, “Or perhaps we did. I don’t know! I hope we didn’t!”

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

The word ‘jubilee’ comes from the Hebrew for ram’s horn.


Jack said...

Yeah, I thought that final comment to Bath was a bit harsh too. They were simply outplayed by a stronger team on the buzzer, and there's nothing you can do about that. Except keep trying, and that's what they did. And good on them for that.

Like Liverpool, I think we'll need to see York play against a stronger team on the buzzer. But, on the evidence of that performance, a good team who could be in with a shout of getting far this year.

A sign of a good team was that York's buzzer strength was complimented on the bonuses: 27/39, which is very good. Poor Bath, meanwhile, could only manage 4/18.

On Monday, a third Oxbridge match, with Pembroke for Cambridge and Somerville for Oxford. The week after, Cardiff play Exeter in a rematch from three series ago.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

I though that York were doing really well on the bonuses. That's a seriously impressive conversion rate, and marks them out as contenders. Poor old Bath seemed to have lost the heart for the contest before the end - they could maybe have had a go at the literature bonuses, but it wouldn't have made any material difference at this stage.

Matthew Sumption said...

As you say, it seemed Bath (or particularly their captain) lost a bit of heart towards the end, and so passed on quite a few answers they could have at least had a guess at. Probably a key skill in UC is to keep calm under pressure, and have a broad enough knowledge that you can give a decent guess answer to most questions.

Paxo was singularly unimpressed with their failure to answer 'The Shah of Iran', that can't have helped their confidence!

Cromarty(IV) said...

This was always going to be a fascinating match for me to watch, for plenty of reasons – partly because I have friends at both Bath and York, but mainly because my second choice of university was Bath. I was wrangling for weeks over whether to choose it or Southampton as my first preference. Had I ended up at Bath, I may also have ended up on its UC team this year, so I was definitely supporting them this week. Unfortunately, getting my support seems to be just as bad as getting the backing of “the Clark sofa”!

I definitely think that Paxo’s parting “or maybe we did [see what you were made of, Bath]” comment was unjustified, as despite Bath’s low bonus conversion rate, their main problem was that they were a bit quiet on the buzzers – as was the case with Keele a few weeks ago. By the time my team had gone 225-90 down against SOAS, my mind was in all sorts of places and I was getting increasingly worried about miscuing on starters and bonuses alike. Plus, plenty of bonuses that I would have enjoyed went to SOAS instead – I’m sure that some of York’s bonuses would have given Bath a greater chance to show us what they were made of. It’s what I call the “losing streak” effect, where it’s hard not to retreat into one’s shell when the questions aren’t going your way.

That said, Callum Woof acquitted himself fairly well on the buzzer, getting a respectable four starters. I couldn’t avoid noticing that he, like me, is a chemistry student from Surrey who sat in the second chair from the left!

York, however, could go far in this competition if they keep up a bonus conversion as good as they displayed in this match. If they come up against a slightly better team on the buzzers, that might be difficult to achieve! We shall see in due time.