Saturday, 1 February 2014

University Challenge - Quarter Final Match Three

Somerville, Oxford v. Clare Cambridge

The Somerville team of Hasneen Karbalai, Zach Vermeer, Chris Beer and their skipper Michael Davies comfortably saw off Pembroke in the first round, and York in the second. Well, I noticed that Mr. Karbalai had been replaced for this match by reserve Sam Walker. I hope that everything is alright with Mr. Karbalai. Opponents Clare, represented by Tom Watson, Carys Redman-White, Mark Chonofsky and the skipper Tom Wright, squeezed past Loughborough in the first round before knocking out a very good Christ Church team in the second round on a tie break. The form guide suggested a tough contest with Somerville coming out ahead.

Tom Wright knew that Barclays was the big five bank that launched its own eponymous credit card, and so took the first starter. This brought up a set of bonuses on Leiden, and we both had a full set. It was nice to see the Oort cloud getting a name check. Mark Chonofsky made a fantastic interruption to the next question. Asked – In a state banquet where lesser guests were served on plates of gold and silver – he buzzed straight in with aluminium. Hell of a shout, that, and fantastic anticipation. Napoleon III served his best guests with it – well, it was expensive when it was first made, you see. British charities named after individuals brought another two correct answers, although Sue Ryder escaped them. ‘Sebaceous exudate of woolly mammals’ sounds somehow reminiscent of 1970s prog-rock band titles, but Carys Redman-White knew that it referred to lanolin, which brought Clare their third starter in a row. Acronyms in Physics meant that I could sit this bonus round out. With the next starter Zach Vermeer took matters in hand for Somerville by buzzing in early to identify the phrase Bread and Circuses, missing from a quote by Juvenal. Their bonuses were on inequality. It didn’t mean a lot to me, but Somerville did enough with the set to provide two correct answers. For the picture starter we saw a picture of a part of the coastline of the UK, in which Chesil Beach was highlighted. As soon as JP mentioned that it was also the title of a 2008 prize winning novel Tom Wright buzzed in with the title, and the author, Ian McEwan. 3 more maps showing places named in titles of recent bestselling novels brought Clare another correct answer, although they missed out on The Rose of Sebastopol – and – The Bookseller of Kabul. Mark Chonofsky knew the one man show about overpopulation called “Ten Billion”. Bonuses on Warren Gamaliel Harding followed, and a well taken full set pushed Clare through the 100 point barrier. On the ten minute mark they led with 105 to Somerville’s 20.

Something about vector calculus followed. Nobody had it. Carys Redman-White knew that rule by the father is patriarchy. Climatology promised little, but Clare managed to salvage a correct answer, despite risking the great man’s ire. Chris Beer knew the game Go for the next starter. A lovely UC set followed on pairs of Elders and Youngers from Ancient Rome followed. Somerville duly took a full set of these. Now, when a question contains the words – which Swiss psychologist – well that’s the point you go for the buzzer, because the answer will be Carl Jung a lot more often than it isn’t. Zach Vermeer won that particular race. A set of bonuses on Angela Carter followed, and they took one but missed Nights at the Circus and The Company of Wolves. Sam Walker made his mark on the competition with the music starter. He was in very quickly to identify the tones of Laura Marling. This earned Somerville three more artists or groups, of which they identified 2, but none of us had Hayseed Dixie’s surprisingly listenable version of “The Ace of Spades”.Nobody managed to identify which chamber of the heart supplies the pulmonary artery – it is the right ventricle. Zach Vermeer identified a quote about the vice presidency of the USA, calling it “the most insignificant office . . . “ Bonuses followed on modern board games, classified as ‘German style’. I actually had all of these. Never played them, but read about all of them in Dave Gorman vs. The World. Somerville also had a full set. Tom Wright won the buzzer race on the next starter to identify a piece of apparatus used for heating substances to high temperatures which shared the same name as a theatre in Sheffield – which of course is the Crucible. Bonuses on astronomy and taxonomy gave me one, and limited Clare to just the one as well. So the first passage of play had been Clare’s, but by the 20 minute mark Somerville had clawed their way back into the contest, although Clare still had an advantage, leading by 135 to 105.

Given Bremen and asked for Germany’s other two city states Michael Davies won the race to answer Hamburg and Berlin. Bonuses on the National Portrait Gallery yielded just 5 points for Man Ray. This brought the second picture starter, and we saw a photo of leaders at a G8 summit. Nobody identified 1994. So the bonuses rolled over to Przewalski’s horse, which was duly snapped up by Carys Redman-White. This earned Clare the G8 photo bonuses, of which they did extremely well to manage a full set, much to JP’s surprise. Chris Beer took Hardy’s Tess of the Durbervilles for the next starter. A lovely UC set of combined names of places – eg Spa and Spain - . They took two, but were still 20 points behind. Still when Zach Vermeer identified Picasso’s Blue period they were only 10 behind. Bonuses on poultry brought them a full set and a five point lead for the first time in the contest. Zach Vermeer knew Lady Caroline Lamb thought Byron was mad, bad and dangerous to know. Chemical test bonuses bought me an unexpected bonus with Fehlings (nothing more than Fehlings etc. etc. ). The lead after these remained at a precarious 15, but Michael Davies knew that the official names of something or other begin with an apostrophe. Bonuses on classical music brought Somerville a precious 10 points, and the lead was now 35 - mor– than a full set of starter and bonuses. Thankfully, the next starter on some Physics thing was interrupted by the gong. Somerville, who had never been in front until the last three minutes of the contest had done it, running out winners by 195 to 160. Well played, and best of luc in your next match. Clare, though, showed that they are a handful for anyone, and are by no means out of the contest yet. A very good match – well played both.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Nothing to report until the third of the climatology bonuses. Unable to dredge up a name for a Vladimir Curtin, skipper Tom Wright offered “Jeremy Paxman”. A nervous laugh echoed around the studio. Was our hero going to leap out of the studio and give him a Basil Fawlty style cuff across the top of the head for his presumption? No. He merely sniffed “Are you quite mad?” but you could tell from the tone of his voice that his heart wasn’t in it.

It was a pensive, and a little cynical Jeremy on show during this contest. On the G8 photo bonuses he observed that neither team had identified the first, and added,
”And indeed, why should you – sic transit Gloria.” The punchline to that was, after Clare had managed a full set of bonuses, he observed,
”There’s not one of them you’d buy a car from.”
Back on form he chuckled as Somerville mused whether they could combine Moldova and Maldives. “I can’t believe you think that Maldives is spelled with an O!” Well, you see, the thing is, Jez, they didn’t. They rejected that answer for precisely that reason. Stick to legitimate targets please, old boy.

Interesting Fact That I Did Not Already Know Of The Week

The brown ring test detects nitrate iron. Ooh, matron!


Jack said...

Another fine match this. A great showing by Somerville to sneak in from behind right at the end of the match, and take the victory. While not as convincing looking as before, another good display from them, and we'll see how they get on next time.

And Clare definitely gave a good account of themselves too, and were a bit more consistent with their previous showings in that they scored well, but couldn't shake the opposition off. They shouldn't be ruled out yet though; we shall see how they get on next time.

And once again, Clare give an obvious joke answer on a bonus they didn't know. An interesting follow up to 'Jeff' in the first round, and 'Tony Badger' (who is the Master of Clare College) in the second!

On the bonuses, both sides did superbly, Clare getting 16/24, and Somerville 19/30, both excellent rates.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack,
It certainly did look as if CLare were attaining Escape Velocity, but that's the thing about UC - if you hit a purple patch you can put on a pile of points in a relatively short period of time. There's going to be some tough elimination matches, I think.