Saturday, 26 October 2013

University Challenge - Repechage One

Durham v. Christ Church, Oxford

What an interesting match up. The highest scoring of our first round runner up teams, against the lowest scoring of our repechage teams. However , as I pointed out in my preview, this is something of a false picture. Christ Church achieved their score in the face of the blitzkrieg unleashed upon them by Trinity, Cambridge, to my mind the most impressive of the teams in the first round. George Greenwood, Andreas Capstack, Philip Ostrowski and captain, LAM regular Ewan Macauley, could have rolled over and given up in the face of that onslaught. They didn’t, and would be a handful for Durham. As for Durham themselves, the team of Alex Richards, Daniel Hulme, Oliver Burnham and their captain Matt Mackenzie came up agonisingly short against Queen’s Cambridge, but proved that they need fear nobody. An interesting match on paper.

An interesting match on the small screen for that matter as well. Alex Richards took first blood with an early buzz. He knew that if you hear “2013” and “skeletal remains” the answer will either be “Richard III” or “Bruce Forsyth” (sorry Brucie. Well, sorryish), and correctly supplied the answer of Dick the Bad. 2 bonuses on pi followed. Another of those rather topical starters followed. There was a bit of a preamble, but as soon as we heard ‘controversial process’ and ‘drilling’ Ewan Macauley buzzed in with fracking. The team managed one bonus on “The Tempest”, incidentally missing out on the quiz chestnut that my favourite 1950s sci fi film “Forbidden Planet” was based on that very play. A great answer from Matt Mackenzie saw him identified a brilliant quote about T.S.Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as belonging to C.S.Lewis. An interesting set of hypotheses saw Durham take another two. Philip Ostrowski knew that the Nordlinger-Ries, with a circumference of 25 km would most likely be an impact crater. This brought them a welcome set on cell biology which were dispatched towards the boundary rope in fairly short order. This brought up the picture starter and Oliver Burnham recognised the logo of UNESCO, even though any helpful wording had been removed. Good shout, that. 2 correct answers on logos of other US organisations were taken. The next starter asked for the 6th book of the Old Testament, and Ewan Macauley was the first to try his arm with Joshua. Weather extremes brought two correct answers. All of which meant that both teams had scored 60 by the ten minute mark. At this point I was patting myself on the back for predicting a close match between the two.

Ewan knew that the aepyornis, or elephant bird, was native to Madagascar. Classical music bonuses on Variations proved elusive, and only the one was answered correctly. For the next question, although I’ve never heard of them when I heard the word ‘osteocytes’ I shouted ‘bones’, pretty much at the same time as Ewan buzzed in with the same answer. He probably knew it, though. Two well earned bonuses on ‘being’ were taken. I did know that Thomas Mann wrote Felix Krull, which neither of the teams did. Andreas Capstack knew that the falls over which Sherlock Holmes fell began with Reich, and it had become perfectly clear that Christ Church was taking the upper hand in the contest. Only one bonus was taken on quotations from de Toqueville, but that wasn’t so important as the fact that Christ Church were forging a sizeable lead. They had scored 70 points since Durham’s last visit to the table. For the music starter Philip Ostrowski apologised to the world for recognising the dulcet tones of Canadienne songstress Celine Dion. Three more of the same brought a full set. George Greenwood knew that the reivers operated on the Scottish borders, and another correct answer on the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion meant that they had now scored 90 unanswered points. A physicsy sort of thing followed, and JP thought short and hard before he rejected Daniel Hulme’s answer, and accepting Ewan’s. When things don’t go for you, they really don’t. A UC special set on pairs of words which are pronounced the same but spelled differently followed. These are usually gettable, and Christ Church made no error in taking a full set. IN the next one, which asked about the animal, the fauve de Borgogne, of which the BRC is the showing organisation in the UK, I think a hint of frustration came in Matt Mackenzie’s answer of ‘badgers’. If it was an attempt to inject a little gallows humour into the proceedings, it worked – well, it made me laugh. I think that the next point was a little controversial. It asked for the three letters linking a French Mediterranean resort, a large Belgian port, and the fifth largest continent. Now, Matt Mackenzie’s actual words when he buzzed in were “Ant – I was going to say Antwerp, that’s wrong isn’t it. “To which JP replied “You’re right. . . it is”. Now, hang on a minute. Even if he was trying to say Antwerp, he clearly said Ant first. Now, there is an argument for saying that was his first answer – in which case it was right. Maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference to the outcome of the contest – I’m sure it wouldn’t, but at the very least Durham would be forgiven for thinking that they had fallen foul of a harsh call there. As it was Christ Church took a full set on molecular Physics. This completed a ten minute shut out, and to add insult to injury Durham had lost 5 points in the interim, and now trailed by 55 points to 200. Game over, I’m afraid.

Now that the middle spell of the contest was over, it seemed as if the spell was broken. Alex Richards buzzed in extremely quickly to answer that Pope Urban II launched the first Crusade. No bonus on transport were taken. For the second picture starter we were asked to identify the breed of Barack Obama’s dog. Ewan was close with Portuguese Water Terrier, but this let in Matt Mackenzie with Portuguese water dog. More presidents and their dogs provided another correct answer. Daniel Hulme knew that the £2 Charles Dickens coin has the words “Something will turn up” around its edge. Two bonuses on members of the Order of Merit took Durham to three figures, and they deserved that. Philip Ostrowski ensured that this last section of the show would not be a shut out by answering that the Sartorius is situated in the leg. Various chemical compounds named after places brought two correct answers. Matt Mackenzie won the buzzer race to identify a set of works with the words ‘the woman’ in the title. Two more bonuses meant that they had more than doubled their score in 5 minutes. Matt Mackenzie knew that a lake – can’t remember the name – is in Kazakhstan. Orwell’s 1984 provided another two bonuses. Philip Ostrowski reminded Durham that Christ Church were still there by identifying two titles of works by Dave Eggers. European Cities of Culture provided just the one bonus. A maths starter was worked out extremely quickly by Ewan, and that, as they say, was that. Christ Church won by 245 to 140, and that devastating middle period shutout had done all the damage. It confirmed what I suggested all along – this is a very good Christ Church outfit, who could do damage again in the second round. As for Durham , well, hard lines. A good team in their own right, but beaten by the better team on the night.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

An early one tonight. On just the second bonus , which asked for the first five digits of the binary expansion of pi ( huh?) Durham took their time working it out before giving no answer, to which he replied, “Very entertaining conferring at least”.
Philip Ostrowski came close to a JP wigging by firstly saying ‘crater’, then ‘asteroid crater’ in answer to the Nordlinger-Ries question. Our hero replied “An impact crater is what it’s properly called. “ In his head I’m sure he was also saying – now write it out a hundred times and NEVER get it wrong again! – For his punchline he added “At least you didn’t say “hole in the ground!” – and again, in his head he probably added – though I wouldn’t have put that past you.
Blimey, but JP was in chatty mood. When Oliver Burnham made it clear from the tone of his voice that he wasn’t sure of the answer, he said “Yes, you were astonished it was so easy. “ Au contraire, monsieur P.
In fact, the man was positively avuncular when he accepted Atomic Energy Agency for International Atomic Agency in the logo bonuses, saying “I’ll give you that . . . on the basis that we were kind to Christ Church a moment ago.”
Uncle Jez had been banished, mind you, by the time that Oliver Burnham offered “Kissinger” for the name of the German writer of “Felix Krull”. “Kissinger?!” he virtually screeched, eyebrows shooting towards the ceiling. “That really wasn’t worth saying!”
Not yet finished, JP introduced the first Canadian bonus by saying it was “Somewhat inexplicable” that Celine Dion had so many Canadian Juno award nominations. Miaow. When they identified Shania Twain he accused them of having no shame, and when they took the full set his only comment was “Oh my godfathers, yes!”
Extending his repertoire to physical comedy, JP grossly exaggerated holding his head in his hands while Christ Church debated whether the battle that put an end of Monmouth’s Rebellion was in the North of England.

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

The BRC is the showing organisation for British keepers and breeders of rabbits.


Jack said...

Great match. Not a close one, but a great one to watch, with plenty of humour from Paxo and the teams. Agree that Christ Church's surge in the middle stages was what won them the game.

This, I suspected and was later confirmed, was the first match to be recorded in Salford rather than Manchester. We'll see what no longer having home advantage does to Manchester when they return in the second round.

On the bonuses, Durham converted a very reasonable 13/24 (with that one penalty), while the Oxonians managed 23/36, which, as I said, isn't as good as their heat, but still very good.

On Monday, the second play-off, between Southampton and Loughborough (good luck again to Cromarty(IV) and co!)

jim360 said...

And yet, the studio looks to me to be the same as in the first-round matches...

Londinius said...

Hi Jack and Jim

Yes, I agree that it was an enjoyable match. I did think that maybe Durham would have started throwing caution to the wind a little earlier when they were being comprehensively outbuzzed, but it wasn't to be.

Manchester - Salford - hmm. I mean, it's not in exactly in the same league as a Newcastle v. Plymouth Argyle type journey for supporters.

William Avery said...

Write out one hundred times: I must not type 'US organisation' when I mean 'UN organisation'!