Friday, 11 October 2013

University Challenge Round One - Heat Thirteen

St. John’s, Oxford v. Downing, Cambridge

We come, then to our last two matches of the first round, after which we will have met all of this year’s teams, including the eventual champions. The first of tonight’s teams, representing St. John’s, Oxford consisted of Ted Elgar, Tom Finch, Tom Salt and their captain Jonathan Lane. Their opposition, from Downing, Cambridge, were Tom Claxton, Georgina Phillips, Tom Rees and captain John Morgan. Oxbridge match again? Well, we’ve been well served by these matches so far this series, so the omens were good.

Tom Claxton knew that Gotland is an island in the Baltic. There was a nice set of bonuses straightaway on things Simon Schama says that every school child should know. One of these fell to Downing. Ted Elgar identified a quotation from an 1857 French novel as having been taken from Madame Bovary – a good shout. One of those old chestnut subjects which somehow nobody ever seems to like in a quiz gave them bonuses on boys’ names , and the office of national statistics. They weren’t easy, and St. John’s too only managed one of their first set of bonuses. John Morgan took the next starter, knowing that the statute law revision act of 1863 repealed some of the provisions of Magna Carta. The bonuses saw me get a rare correct answer on Physics, knowing that Newton was the 2nd Lucasian Professor. In fact I had 2, knowing the Royal Mint as well. I didn’ t have a clue about the deceleration one, mind you, although Downing did to take a full set. Something about joules and balls and kinetic energy saw Tom Rees supply the correct answer to earn a set of bonuses on vanilla. Downing had the same two that I had. This brought up a picture starter that was right up my street, a map of shipping forecast areas, in which Dover had been left blank. John Morgan was the first to buzz in with the correct answer. More of the same followed as bonuses, of which Downing managed one. Georgina Philips had a good early buzz for the next starter about a publication on the city of Rome. One bonus on sets of brothers capped a pretty successful first ten minutes for Downing, who led by 90 to 15.

Tom Claxton lost five points through an early buzz on the description of a national flag, which allowed Tom Finch to correctly identify it as that of Russia. New entries to the OED provided St. John’s with two correct answers. There was a lovely starter to follow – in addition to alpha and omega five Greek letters have five letter names ending in A – name four. You could choose from delta – gamma – theta – kappa – sigma. Tom Finch missed out by slipping lambda into his list. Tom Claxton took it. Biology bonuses only brought 5 more points, but that was enough to take Downing to 100. Tom Rees knew that a Paris railway station and an 1805 battle were both called Austerlitz – as indeed was Fred Astaire, which I believe would have been the last part of the question. For their bonuses Downing knew that the smallest natural number with 7 letters in its spelled name, and the number of players in a gaelic football team, is fifteen. They did the same with an American football team, but not an Aussie Rules one. (Love Aussie Rules – fabulous game to watch.) For the music starter Tom Finch’s identification of the instrument playing as an oboe was almost instantaneous. I thought that St. John’s were unfortunate only to get one of the bonuses on other instruments right. Tom Rees knew that Herbert Spencer – and not Charles Darwin – coined the phrase Survival of the Fittest. Bonuses on pairs of words with the same pronunciation but different spellings promised much, and delivered a full set, and a rare well done from JP. Now – how about this one. Asked about the discovery of a tri atomic doohickey in the atmosphere of Venus, I answered ozone, and got it right! Only because I know that ozone is O3, so it wasn’t quite lap of honour round the living room time(but I came close). Tom Rees had it, and earned a set of bonuses on science. What was going on with the Science questions in this show? I had the full set of these, as did Downing. To be fair they didn’t embark upon the lap of honour that I did at this point, which was probably very wise of them. Ted Elgar recognized a synopsis of The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, and earned a set of bonuses on false friends in other languages. One was taken. Avatar, swastika and karma were all originally words in Sanskrit, as Tom Finch was quick to point out for the next starter. 2 bonuses on Archaeology were enough to take their score to 85 against Downing’s 175. Game over, methought, but a spectacular last few minutes might just push St. John’s towards the repechage.

Tom Claxton knew that Queen Margaret of Anjou was Shakespeare’s She Wolf of France. Algebra, or somesuch followed, which seemed very much to Downing’s liking and they earned another well done from JP for taking a full set. Now, I have never seen the Fat Duck in Bray ( I’ve never seen the thin one for that matter either – boom boom) but I guessed that the photo for the next starter was just that. As did Tom Rees. More photos of famous restaurants didn’t prove quite so simple, and I had none, while Downing didn’t do much better. Ted Elgar was in too quickly for the next starter, where it paid to wait until the words Beethoven’s Eroica were given, whence it became obvious that it was 1st, 2nd and 3rd we were dealing with. That was the first starter to be missed by both teams. A good buzz from Tom Claxton saw him identify Slovenia as the next in a sequence of countries bordering Austria. Bonuses on English rivers brought them 10 points more. Believe it or not – I had another science starter right. To be fair, if you’re asking for a law about electricity, and you mention resistance, then you’ve always got a shout with Ohm’s. John Morgan had it the same time that I did. 2 bonuses on Haydn symphonies kept the tempo of the Downing march steady. Nobody knew that Dryden called Ben Jonson the Vergil of elaborate writing. Neither team could quite work out that 118 years separated the Battle of Bosworth from the death of the last Tudor monarch. Tom Claxton knew that bi valves and gastropods are molluscs. Bonuses on films again brought another ten points. To be honest the chance of making the repechage had passed St. John’s by at this stage, so I was glad that Ted Elgar recognized a series of works by John Ruskin to push them to the brink of triple figures at least. Now they got a set of Physics bonuses I didn’t get, but at least St. John’s had one of them. Tom Finch pushed St. John’s into triple figures by winning the buzzer race to spell aberration. 10 more points on shared names in literature took them to their finishing score of 115. The gong halted the contest before the end of the next starter. Downing had won comprehensively with 260, and are yet another team to watch in the 2nd round.

Jeremy Paxman watch

The first JP moment was probably missed by all bar seasoned Paxman watchers, but there was just a quick flash of the trademark old fashioned look as Downing offered Orkneys instead of Viking on the shipping areas bonuses.

It was a long wait for anything else of note. After the restaurant bonuses JP snorted “Why on earth you’re expected to know that I’ve no idea!” Well, quite.

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

Gustav Holst’s brother was a Hollywood actor.


Jack said...

I wouldn't exactly say this was an exciting match, but it was another decent one. And another good strong team to watch! Something tells me, we can look forward to some good second round matches.

St John's, like their Cambridge counterparts from earlier this series, were not a bad team at all; they were simply overpowered on the buzzer by a stronger team on it.

In terms of bonuses, both sides were decent: St John's 10/21, and Downing 25/42. Both sides incurred a penalty each.

So, on Monday, the final first round match, an all-Welsh affair between Aberystwyth and Bangor. The losing team need 155 or more to knock Christ Church off the repechage. Pleasingly, the Radio Times has not (yet) published the fixture for the first repechage match, so we have not (yet) had anything about Monday's match spoiled.

Cromarty(IV) said...

Downing are definitely up there with the strongest teams on the buzzers, if this match is anything to go by - some of their interventions were truly inspired. I am certainly looking forward to seeing them again.

Unsurprisingly, I'm extremely envious that the Shipping Forecast picture round featured in a match when I wasn't there! I learnt that map and the associated area names specifically for the show, and I quickly grew to love the Forecast enough that I've adopted this nom de plume, so I really wanted to get that question! Luckily, though, my favourite area name (Cromarty, no less) didn't feature.

I just thought I'd take the opportunity to decrypt my alias. The (IV) after my name is a reference to "Cromarty, Forth", which are, of course, two consecutive shipping areas - but in my subject, when we write Roman numerals in brackets after the name of an element (typically a transition metal - stop me if I'm getting too technical!), it is an unambiguous indication of that element's oxidation state. My fellow chemists will get it.

And I'll see you in the repechage in a few weeks' time!

Londinius said...

Hi guys,

No, I didn't think St. John's were a bad team, but they were clearly outgunned on the buzzer for large parts of the show.

The repechage - now that really looks like being competitive! Looking forward already.

Good series

Anonymous said...

That's the third time Slovenia has been an answer this series. If only one of those times had been in our match!