Saturday, 20 September 2014

University Challenge - Round One - heat 9

Leicester v. Open University

JP was quick to remind us that Leicester were the first ever winners of the show back in the early 60s. Trying to replicate the achievements of the university’s first team were John O’Doherty, Adam Brown, Nadal Al Masri (apologies, sir, but that is what the subtitles gave me) and their captain Robert Greenhill. Now, their opponents represented the Open University. The participation of the Open University within University Challenge is something that has caused its fair share of comment over the years. The Open University have twice been champions, the last time coming in 1999, when they steamrollered over the opposition. Since then they have not fielded another team in the show. I’ve heard various theories about their absence, but whatever the case, they’re back, and on Monday they were represented by Danielle Gibney, Stuart Taylor, Kate Law, and their captain Lynne Jones. Back in the days when the OU were fairly regular competitors I always used to think that by rights they probably ought to be better than the majority of their opposition, their teams being that bit older, and presumably having that much more knowledge and experience, however, with the exception of 1999 it rarely happened this way. You can imagine that I was very interested to see how this one would pan out.

Danielle Gibney began proceedings by recognizing various definitions and derivations of the word posse. 3 gettable bonuses on coal provided the Open with 2 correct answers. Now – even if the name Stradivarius isn’t mentioned, when you hear ‘Cremona’ and ‘instrument makers’ you say violins. That’s what Robert Greenhill did, to earn a set of bonuses on homonyms. With a little thought these were all gettable although chard/charred did escape them. I don’t know a lot about radiation, but I do know that UV rays were used to treat skin diseases, as did Adam Brown. Tree diseases weren’t all easy, and they only managed Ash dieback. Already we were at the picture starter. We were shown a map, and asked to identify the lake highlighted. It was clearly the Lake District, and skipper Lynne Jones recognized Ullswater for the OU. More of the same followed, of which they identified 2, missing out on Wales’ Lake Bala. Now, the next starter, James Hoban, is one of those old quiz chestnuts you hear from time to time. He was the architect who designed the White House. The teams took a little bit more of the question after his name was mentioned, then it was Adam Brown who came in for the points. The bonuses on Chinua Achebe took Leicester to 65 points, and they led the OU who had 40. It was shaping up to be a good contest between two useful teams.

Robert Greenhill widened the gap by taking the next starter, recognizing the word ‘coda’. Ballets with music by Stravinsky didn’t offer much on the surface, but I managed 2 of them as did Leicester. Nadal Al Masri buzzed in to identify Europa as the Greek mythological figure used as a watermark on Euro notes. Books about Economics left me with just the one answer of Robert Peston, but Leicester managed two of them to push their score into 3 figures. Much as John o’Doherty did, having heard the word wolframite I immediately thought of tungsten for the next starter. Leicester were looking in fairly irresistible form at this stage of the contest. Neuro transmitters did nothing for me, but John O’Doherty was happy to get a full set. The music starter followed, and Kate Law was in extremely quickly to identify the tones of Rod Stewart. More Scottish artists whose music features in the Grand Theft Auto series followed, and it was a good set to be given, since it had full house written all over it. Nice to hear famous Bob Holness impersonator Raphael Ravenscroft playing on Baker Street too. That set seemed to have given the OU some heart as Kate Law took her second consecutive starter identifying various Children’s Laureates. The languages of London according to the 2011 census weren’t easy, and provided little. Lynne Jones took her teams third starter in a row, knowing that various writers had published volumes titled ‘Jerusalem’. Geological Eras were an interesting set of bonuses, and I was very pleased with myself for dredging up the Tethys Ocean. One bonus was taken. OU were closing the gap, but Stuart Taylor zigged on the next starter with Aye Aye, allowing John O’Doherty to zag with bush baby. Bonuses on columns were gettable, and Leicester duly went on to get them. John O’Doherty identified various bones in the ear for the next. Latin terms in law gave skipper Robert Greenhill a very quick full set, which meant that at the 20 minute mark Leicester were once again back in the driving seat, and leading by 180 to 95. Essentially, Leicester were almost home, and if not exactly dry, certainly no more than slightly damp. As for the OU, well it looked like a question of whether they would be able to push on enough to guarantee a repechage slot.

It was Leicester’s impressive skipper who won the buzzer race to identify a photo of Ted Heath – whose name incidentally is an anagram of Had Teeth – and he did. Photos of US presidents in their spare time gave Leicester another full set of bonuses. Stuart Taylor sounded doubtful when he identified Michel Platini as the star of the 1984 Euros, but he was right. Bonuses on Geography took them to 115, and a repechage place was certainly looking possible. If you concatenate the silent letters in the word sword, business and Autumn, then you get win, as Ket Law explained. The bonuses on scientific terms all containing hyper – pushed them to 135 with 5 minutes to go. Danielle Gibney supplied ten more points by buzzing early to take a starter on chloroform. German cities, and their federal states took them up to 160 points, and a position on the repechage board as it stands. It got even better for the OU when Stuart Taylor identified Victoria’s first and last PMs as Melbourne and Salisbury. Astronomy didn’t provide much as a set of bonuses. Leicester, having seen the gap significantly eaten into decided that that was quite enough of that, thank you very much, and Adam Brown buzzed in on the next starter to identify Luanda as the world’s most populous Portuguese speaking capital city. French artists – in which pairs of artists names were given and the team had to say in which decade the two of them were both alive – saw Leicester again take a full house, and earn a JP well done, an honour indeed. Lynne Jones knew that the orchestra was originally the area where the Chorus danced. That buzz pretty much guaranteed the OU’s continued participation in this series. Roman settlements in Britain brought them up to 195 – a score that would have won quite a few shows this series. Mind you, they lost 5 when Stuart Taylor unluckily zigged with Sartre when he should have zagged with Camus. It won’t stop them going forward, I’m sure. Robert Greenhill snapped that up. Bonuses on Mitfords gave Leicester just enough time to add one bonus to their score enabling them to finish with 245.

That was a thoroughly enjoyable show. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love every UC show, but I do like to see two good teams going at it hammer and tongs, and displaying knowledge – and I would imagine that both of these teams – and Leicester in particular, ended up with good conversion rates. I like the cut of this Leicester team’s gib. Three of them really showed a dab hand with the buzzer, and that will always make a team a more formidable prospect than relying on one star.

Well played all.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing worthy of comment until the smiled aside to Kate Law’s correct answer of Rod Stewart – “You look rather embarrassed to know that.”
A surprisingly lenient JP allayed Robert Greenhill’s concerns when his team supplied the answer “The Paris Communards” instead of the Paris Commune. “Yes,” he replied, “BY the Communards, I think.” No, Jez, “You Are My World” and “Don’t Leave Me This Way” were by the Communards, I think you'll find.
When Ted Heath’s photo was identified JP couldn’t, even on this show, allow a politician to get off lightly, and he noted, “His hobbies were yachting and conducting orchestras extremely badly.” Ooooh – get you!
A lenient adjudication seemed to have allowed OU skipper to get away with saying E – O when Danielle Gibney had fed her the answer the constellation Leo. Sorry, but I rather thought there was an I have to take your first answer rule on the show. I’m not trying to be pedantic here, but either the rule is in force, or it’s not. Which obviously Jez remembered, when he seemed to change his mind and rule the answer out.

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

The Grand Theft Auto game series has origins in Dundee. Mahatma Gandhi’s first language was Gujarati


Jack said...

Well, it's going to be some match that tops this for best match of the first round. Both teams gave a truly remarkable showing, and both fully deserve to come back one way or another.

On the bonuses, Open converted a very respectable 19/30 (with one penalty), but Leicester 27/31! That is simply astounding, and must mark them out as one of the series favourites.

On Monday then, Trinity College Cambridge play St Andrews, then the week after, a rematch from two series ago, with UCL playing Exeter.

Londinius said...

It was a great match, wasn't it, Jack. That bonus conversion rate is amazing - as long as it's not a flash in the pan, and with three of them showing sharpness on the buzzer, Leicester could well go a long way in this series. They did this against a good team as well.

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

Agreed, fantastic match. It is very hard to see four other teams getting better than 190 in the remaining first round matches, so I'm sure we'll see the OU again. And against a slightly poorer team than Leicester they could well make the quarters or even semis based on that performance.

Had OU won with the same performance and score, we'd have been crediting their performance. As is, we could be looking back on this and saying there's no shame losing to the series finalists or winners.