Friday, 10 October 2014

University Challenge - Round One - Match 12

Brasenose, Oxford v. Durham

We’re getting towards the end of the first round now, and the race to get at least a repechage slot is a tight one. The first of this week’s teams represented Brasenose College, Oxford. The Brasenose team were Louise Naudé, Gwen Cartwright, Russell Black and their captain Rosie Thomas. Durham, unlike Oxford, Cambridge and London is a collegiate university that elects to compete as one institution, and their team were Daniel Morgan – Thomas, Freddie Lloyd, Nikul Boyd-Shah and their captain Fred Harvey. Let’s get cracking then.

A nice starter kicked us off, mentioning people and things that have all given their names to London squares. Nikul Boyd-Shah took that one for Durham. This gave his team a set of bonuses on scientists born in 1914. I had two, and Durham just the one. Now, I guessed that Fermi might be the answer to the next – and this provided me with a very early lap of honour around the room. Fred Harvey took that one. British Overseas Territories promised a challenge at the very least. Durham picked up 1, and were doing what you must do, which is at least add something to your score every time that you return to the table. Daniel Morgan Thomas knew that you have to add a letter K to a river valley to get a foe in Doctor Who (NB question setters – it is either a foe IN Doctor Who, or a foe OF The Doctor. The character is not called Doctor Who). The shortlist for the OED word of the year of 2013 provided a set of bonuses, and Durham took one. I’ll be honest, I only knew bitcoin as well. A pictorial representation of the political affiliation and length of office of successive French Presidents was recognized by Daniel Morgan-Thomas, and this earned three more of the same, relating to different countries. They took Australia and Canada, but missed out on New Zealand. Fred Harvey knew that Sir Kenneth Clark’s famous documentary series was Civilisation. This brought up a full set on 17th century Britain. That was enough to ensure that Durham reached the 10 minute mark having complete a 90 point shutout over Brasenose – who surely at this point must have been dreading to hear the kiss of death that is JP’s “Plenty of time left, Brasenose”.

I loved the next starter. AS soon as it mentioned that we were looking for a word used most famously in Edmund’s speech in King Lear I knew we were looking for ‘bastards’. Louise Naudé got Brasenose off the mark, looking a little uncertain, but with no reason to be. This brought Brasenose a set of bonuses on astronomy, of which they managed one. Coincidentally the next starter was also on Astronomy, and I knew that the largest constellation is Hydra. Rosie Thomas had a rush of blood to the head and came in too early, losing 5 of the team’s hard earned points. This was the first starter to go begging. The second followed hard on its heels with a quotation about architecture. I pay full credit to Brasenose for throwing caution to the wind and buzzing early to try to take the initiative from Durham, but sadly they buzzed too early again on the next starter, which gave several clues pointing to the island nation of Tonga. Given a free run at the question Durham made no mistake. Bonuses on fever brought them vie more points. In the music starter we heard the dulcet sounds of a tenor. Louise Naudé flipped the coin with Carreras, which was incorrect, leaving Daniel Morgan-Thomas to call tails with Pavarotti and take the points. For the bonuses we had three more Pavarotti arias, and Durham had to identify the opera from which they came. They took two of these, which I reckon wasn’t bad going at all. Mikul Boyd-Shah knew that if you can have a slender or a slow one, then you’ve got a loris. I got stuck behind some slow loris on the M4 this morning , badoom boom ching. I’m here all week, ladies and gents. Bonuses on Lorca Proved difficult to come by, but they managed one, which is all that I would have had as well. Daniel Morgan-Thomas knew that a list of Prime Ministers were all succeeded by men with the given name of William. A lovely UC set on preserved railway lines with compass points and counties in their names followed. I knew the West Somerset and the East Lancashire, but this was not a set to Durham’s taste, and they failed to trouble the scorer further with them. Nobody knew Wisconsin for the next starter, which left one more before we reached the 20 minute mark. Nobody knew that manganese appears immediately before iron on the periodic table, and that was enough to ensure that the score at the 20 minute mark was 150 – 5 to Durham.

Well, it was fairly clear now that Durham were going to win, and Brasenose were not going to be challenging for a repechage slot. But there was still a lot of play left in the game, and the question remained, how many points could Brasenose gather? Well they got no joy out of the next starter, which saw Daniel Morgan-Thomas identify a quote from the Book of Proverbs. A nice UC set on prominent people whose names are also names of nationalities of EU countries followed. Alright, they had to guess at German, but it was right, and they took a full set. Showing no mercy towards Durham, Fred Harvey took the second picture starter, identifying a photograph of a statue of George Stephenson. Three more statues by railway stations appeared, and to get the points they not only had to answer the name of the person depicted, but also the station. They took to, and knew that the first was Harold Wilson, but not that he would be outside Huddersfield station. Again, no mercy was shown on the next starter when Daniel Morgan-Thomas buzzed in early to identify Mount Helicon as the home of the Muses. They didn’t do much with the physiology of the kidneys, but then the only one of those that I had was Bowman’s capsule, so I can’t say anything. That man Morgan-Thomas knew that the words “You are now leaving the American Sector” could be seen from 1961 to 1990 on Checkpoint Charlie. De facto states that are either partially or wholly unrecognized by other states weren’t easy, and gave little to Durham, but hey, Durham didn’t need the points at this stage. Fred Harvey knew that moon and muon differ by only one letter, and the torture for Brasenose continued. The Newbery medal provided a full set. Finally Brasenose managed to get a buzz in, as Russell Black correctly identified Bill de Blasio as the Mayor of New York. 15 points. Alas, a set of bonuses which I wouldn’t claim to understand on chemistry and biology, provided them with nothing more. Russell Black took his second starter in a row, knowing the genre of fiction known as Newgate novels. Countries slightly larger than the US state of Texas provided them with 2 bonuses, enough to take them to 35, and in two buzzes they had gone from looking like prime candidates for UC’s lowest ever score. Good. No team deserves that fate. Fred Harvey now decided that was quite enough of that, thank you very much, and promptly linked Gaza and Mobius with strip. There was no time left for Durham to get any bonuses on military history.

On reflection, I think that JP’s reaction to Brasenose – “What happened to you?!” followed by a smile, was probably the best way of handling it. This is only a game – a great game, but a game nevertheless, and sometimes in games things just don’t work out for you. Well done to Durham, and good luck in the next round.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

An early start for JP in this show. On only the second bonus set his eyebrows shot towards the ceiling when Durham offered the Falklands instead of the correct answer of Gibraltar. Funnily enough hat was actually the answer to the very next question.
After the railway lines set there was a sudden rogue buzz which made JP’s hackles rise, and led him to exclaim “I haven’t asked the question yet!”
When Russell Black managed Brasenose’s second starter with just over a minute to go, he heralded this with
“Stranger things have happened . . . well, not many stranger things, actually.”

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

Shakespeare uses the word bastard(s) 89 times in his plays


Jack said...

Not the first time Durham have convincingly trounced a team of three women and one man in the first round.

Poor old Brasenose just couldn't get any traction on the buzzer, and there's not a great deal you can do when that happens. They certainly didn't deserve to be the lowest scorers of all time though, so those late points were very welcome for them. Good on them for taking their defeat with good grace.

Well done to Durham on a convincing first showing, but I suspect they may not find it so easy against a stronger team on the buzzer; we shall have to wait and see. Their bonus rate of 20/43 isn't the best we've seen, but isn't too bad either. Brasnose managed 3/9 (with two penalties).

So, on Monday, Corpus Christi College Cambridge play York, and then an Oxbridge match to conclude the first round, with Magdalen playing for Oxford and Pembroke for Cambridge.

Anonymous said...

This was the match filmed directly before ours (I'm on the York team in next week's match) - I have to say it was somewhat terrifying watching this in the Green Room - all kinds of thoughts were running through my head!

I felt pretty awful for Brasenose though (then and again when re-watching) - clearly they must have been pretty capable to get through to the TV stage, and they did well in the warm-up as I recall. So I guess it was mostly a case of not being quite confident or quick enough on the buzzer. The margins between doing well and getting thrashed are pretty fine, I guess.

At least they managed to get out of the single-figure mire at the end, that was nice!

Joe C

Londinius said...

Hi JAck

Hmm, you know I did wonder what Durham's BCR (bonus conversion rate) was. I thought that realistically they possibly should have had 300 with the run on the buzzer they were getting.

Nice to see Corpus Christi back. I still think they were hard done by in the Gail Trimble series.

Hi jtrc500

You do realise that you have let yourself in for support from the Clark sofa now, don't you? This has been the kiss of death for many a good team in the past.

Yes, I'm glad that Brasenose didn't end up with the albatross of lowest ever score on UC hanging around their necks. There's too many people around who know nothing about the show who'd be perfectly happy to make a big thing about it.

Jack said...

Er, that was Corpus Christi College Oxford actually Dave. Their Cambridge namesakes haven't been on for ten years, though, so I agree that it's good to see them back again.

Stephen Follows said...

'Daniel Morgan Thomas knew that you have to add a letter K to a river valley to get a foe in Doctor Who (NB question setters – it is either a foe IN Doctor Who, or a foe OF The Doctor. The character is not called Doctor Who).'

Hi Dave,

I think your bracket has stopped you finishing the sentence here.

Best wishes,


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