Saturday, 4 October 2014

University Challenge - Heat 11

UCL v. Exeter

Well, you probably know my allegiances by now. As an alumnus of London University (Goldsmith’s College) I do tend to support other institutions from the University, and so UCL were the reicpients of my support in this show. In his introduction, for the first time I can remember JP did not refer to UCL as the godless institution of Gower Street. Bethany Drew, Andrew Brueton,  Haraldr Gunnarsson. and the captain Thomas Halliday made up this year’s UCL team. Their opponents were Exeter University, represented by Harry Heath, Katie Barry,  Rick Harmes and Captain Jeffrey Sage. These two institutions met in Exeter’s last outing, where they were comprehensively beaten in the first round. Different personnel, different result? Time would tell.

Haraldr Gunnassron took first blood for UCL, knowing a quote from Orwell’s 1984 that referred to power. Bonuses on culinary parts beginning with gin. Lots of things begin with gin, and not all of them culinary either. Hangovers being one of them. A full set was taken. Harry Heath made a quick buzz to bring Exeter into the game, identifying the British East India Company as having been chartered by Elizabeth I. Member states of the Nordic Council weren’t by any means an easy set of bonuses, and Exeter took 2. Thomas Halliday knew that a French mining engineer coined the word turbine, and earned UCL a set of bonuses on british wading birds. 2 more bonuses were taken. Now, if you get a question about a late Thomas Hardy novel, and it sounds miserable, you’ll never lose your shirt backing Jude the Obscure. When it comes to Hardy, Jeffrey Sage knows his onions and provided the correct answer to earn bonuses on scientific epiphanies. Gesundheit. Actually I knew Tesla, and guessed Time. Exeter took one. Now, we saw a detail from the flag of Bolivia for the first picture starter. Everyone had South America, but nobody specifically Bolivia. The picture bonuses rolled over, and we had another starter. Jeffrey Sage picked them up for his team by correctly answering that while Babbage’s first calculating machine was the difference engine, his second was the analytical engine. This gave them the countries’ coats of arms bonuses, and they did well to take 2 I thought. This was enough to give them a 55 – 45 lead at the 10 minute mark, and it was looking like a good contest at this stage.

Do you know that a voiceless alveolar plosive is T? Actually I did from my dabbling with phonetics back I my student days. That wasn’t enough for the answer though – since you had to render your answer in the NATO phonetic alphabet – which Haraldr Gunnarsson did very quickly with tango. The noughties provided UCL with 2 correct answers, enough to give them back the lead. Rick Harmes knew that Delacroix painted Women of Algiers. Beats working for a living I suppose. Shakespeare’s History plays, and their closing lines, proved tricky for Exeter, since they took 1 while all three were actually gettable. A UC special followed, which invited us to view the periodic table as a chessboardwith the king on Oxygen. Fair enough – I’ve played on Sporcle enough times to know that oxygen is 8th. It has 5 possible moves – chlorine and nitrogen being two. Asked for two of the others I plumped for fluorine and sulphur, which would have worked, while Katie Barry gave us Fluorine and Phosphorus, which was an equally good answer. What do you know about the Arrhenius Equation? Me neither. I did guess the last bonus, though, which was the one that Exeter answered correctly as well. Already it was time for the music starter. What we heard was instantly recognizable as Holst’s Mars, the Bringer of War, which was probably why Andrew Brueton recognized it instantly. Three more composers who served in some way during world war one followed. I surprised myself by taking a rare full set on classical music, while UCL missed Ravel, but took Orff and Vaughan Williams. Suitably emboldened by his previous answer, Andrew Brueton knew that the capital city linked with the sinking of the Graf Spee was Montevideo. An impressive full set of bonuses on fencing followed, which earned the much prized JP well done. That man Andrew Brueton took his third consecutive starter, knowing that the flags of Ulster and Abkhazia are linked by hands. Soviet leaders were an easy set for an old timer like me, but UCL just missed on Brezhnev. The Sun, referring to his mental condition in the last few years leading to his death, announced it with the headline – Red Cabbage Ruled Russia For Years – apparently. Guess who identified the given name of Jorge Bergoglio when he assumed the office of Pontiff? Yes, it was that man Brueton. Depictions of Socrates followed – and I made an immediate prediction that one of the questions would be about the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – (How’s it hanging Mr. So – Crates?). One indeed was. Just as well since it was the only one I had. Conversely it was the only 1 that UCL dropped. I had to feel for Exeter’s captain at this stage. That 4 set burst from Andrew Brueton and UCL had opened a significant gap, and so Jeffrey Sage buzzed in early when asked about a building built in Constantinople after it was taken by the Ottomans 1453. He answered Hagia Sophia – understandable since it is one of the most famous buildings in Istanbul, but wrong, since that was built hundreds of years earlier. Given the rest of the question, as soon as they knew it was a palace that was being asked for, it was fairly obvious that Andrew Brueton was going to offer Topkapi. This resulted in bonuses on physiology. After taking 2 bonuses, UCL looked safe as houses, while Exeter needed to get a wiggle on to get into the repechage round, trailing by 80 to 170.

Onto the second picture round. We saw a painting of a wedding celebration by a Spanish artist. If you don’t know, then you go for either Velasquez or Goya if it’s Spanish. I thought Goya, Jeffrey Sage went for Velasquez, and I was right. Andrew Brueton took his sixth successive starter for that one. Three more paintings of wedding celebrations and we both of us took the first and the last. Now, asked which star comes next in this sequence in ascending order of brightness, I would have been tempted to buzz in with Sirius – the brightest – before the start of the list. Jeffrey Sage played a captain’s innings on this one, dragging his team out of the rut into which they had been stuck for the last ten minutes or so with the correct answer. Bonuses on Herzegovina gave them a full set, and a well done from JP. Harry Heath knew that the capital city furthest upstream on the River Danube is Vienna. Bonuses on Prime Ministers and feminism brought 5 more points. Andrew Brueton recognized some of the characters in the opera Aida. Official languages of India other than Hindi and English was not an easy set of bonuses, and UCL took 1 of them. Given half an hour I could have worked out the answer to the binary sum 110 and 11. Haraldr Gunnarson did it in less than 30 seconds. 1001 apparently. Bonuses on the name Humbert gave UCL a full set. Now, to have a chance of posting a repechage score Exeter really had to take the next starter. Harry Heath gave it a lash, but buzzed too early and lost five. Nobody got it. Jeffrey Sage knew the Dutch philosopher Spinoza. Bonuses on astronomy didn’t help that much, as they answered the same number that I did – none. Harry Heath knew that the capital of Kiribati is Tarawa. Political slogans gave them two bonuses, enough to take them to 145.  Oh, but the outrageous aligns and arrows of fortune meant that Jeffrey Sage buzzed too early on the next starter losing 5. The final score was UCL 230 – Exeter 140. Very well done to UCL, who look to be one of the stronger teams in this year’s competition. As for Exeter, well, 3 runners up so far have higher scores than their 140, and LSE also have 140. There are three more heats to go, so if the losing teams in those score higher than 140 it’s all academic anyway, but at the moment it is just possible that Exeter may be back.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP started slowly in this match. In the first ten minutes there was nothing worthy of note other than his response to the answer of North Korea for one of the first picture bonuses , “Yes, the people’s paradise of North Korea”.
When Exeter offered Peel as one of the PMs Jp showed off his knowledge saying “It’s too early for him”

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know

The Brotherhood of St. Mark was founded in 1478 in Frankfurt to control the instruction of fencing. The weakest part of the blade is called the foible.


Jack said...

Well Dave, like me, you appear to have forgotten Exeter were with us last year too. Mind you, their first round match, which they lost to Cardiff, was instantly forgettable, so I'm not surprised it slipped both our minds.

A very pleasant and enjoyable match between two very good teams this was. UCL gave a good account of themselves, particularly Andrew Brueton, who finished with seven starters to his name. Exeter did reasonably well too, and should not be ashamed of themselves.

It will be interesting how they will decide whether Exeter or LSE will survive to the play-offs. Both reached their score via nine starters, which is the usual tie-breaker. Exeter's three penalties could be what decides it. As you say, it won't matter if at least one of the three remaining losing teams scores 145 or more.

On the bonuses, UCL converted a rather good 24/33, and Exeter 13/27.

On Monday, Brasenose College Oxford play Durham; the week after, Corpus Christi College Cambridge take on York.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack
Mea culpa - mea maxima culpa. It was a good match wasn't it? You're right that there's no shame on Exeter - UCL look like another pretty good outfit this year, although their next match will give us a clearer indication.

Andrew B. said...

Aren't there 3 more heats to go? We've had 11 so far.