Saturday, 25 October 2014

University Challenge - Round One - Match 14

Magdalen Oxford v. Pembroke Cambridge

Along with Manchester University, Magdalen are 4 times winners of UC. Aiming to add a record breaking fifth title were Harry Gillow, Chris Savory, Cameron J. Quinn and their captain Hugh Binnie. Pembroke last competed a couple of years ago, when they reached the quarter finals. This year’s vintage were Tom McGhee, Theodore Hill, Mark Hammond and their skipper James Hutt. All present and correct, then, so let’s get started.

Both teams seemed to need to hear a lot of a relatively gentle opener, asklng for the first non royal to appear on a British coin in 1965, and in fact it was Cameron J. Quinn from Los Angeles who answered. Prime Ministers and reforms gave Magdalen their first set, and these weren’t easy. They took two of them. Now, a natural weather phenomenon mentioned in a play by Neil Simon suggested sunshine to me, as in the Sunshine Boys. Hugh Binnie heard more of the question and gave the correct answer. Bonuses on words derived from singing eg canto, canticle and cantor, brought them 2 more correct answers. A long winded definition of an orangutan allowed Chris Savory to contribute his first and his team’s third correct starter. As did Magdalen I only had one of a difficult set of bonuses on astronomy. Three sets in, and Magdalen had scored 50 unanswered points. I was a little surprised that neither team could dredge up the term palaeolithic for the next starter. After that “I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered” was obviously Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. But what did the question want, the name of the character, or the title of the book? Tom McGhee was the first to buzz after it became clear to take Pembroke’s first points. Phonetics and phonology looked a difficult ask, but Pembroke took a full house. The first picture starter showed a map with the university town of Aberystwyth marked on it. Theodore Hill was first in to identify it. For the bonuses we were given several places’ positions on a map, together with their definitions in “The Meaning of Liff” by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. (I shan’t explain how this utterly joyous book works here – just get it if you haven’t)  2 bonuses taken. They missed out on Dunstable – definition – a retired police officer. This fightback brought them to just 5 points behind Magdalen at the ten minute mark – with the score at 50 – 45.

Theodore Hill took his second and his team’s third starter, knowing that in 1991 the Federated States of Micronesia became part of the UN. Bonuses on notable test matches at Old Trafford really didn’t require any in depth knowledge of cricket – I had a full house – and Pembroke took two of them. A long winded starter, with a quote from Evelyn Waugh, eventually meandered into asking for a 17th century style of European architecture. I guessed baroque, and Tom McGhee supplied the same answer, which was correct. Scientific terms with the prefix iso shied away from the obvious ones, and I had none of them, while Pembroke managed one. James Hutt, emboldened by his team’s purple patch, buzzed too early on the next question about a chemical element. When JP said it comes between yttrium and niobium I knew it was zirconium and when told it was the last one when listed alphabetically Hugh Binnie buzzed in with the right answer. Bonuses followed on British birds whose two latin names are the same – eg  Cygnus Cygnus, the whooper swan. I took all three and so did Magdalen. No well done from JP yet. Cameron Quinn needed to hear hardly any of the music starter before identifying the Smiths. Three bands or artists to whom John Peel also gave critical early exposure, like the Smiths, saw them add 10 more points to their total. Tom McGhee knew that Roberto Azevedo is from Brazil. When JP announced that the bonuses would be on bricklaying this was granted with laughter by the audience. They were actually all gettable and Pembroke managed two of them. Cameron Quinn took the next identifying a definition of cholesterol. The novels of Don Delillo promised me nothing, which was exactly how much they delivered. One of them fell to Magdalen. Tom McGhee knew Henry Van Dyke Carter did the original illustrations for Grey’s Anatomy. This pushed Pembroke through the three figure barrier. Caribbean islands brought them a further 10 points, and earned the JP well done. Hugh Binnie won the buzzer race to say that Apollo 11 took the first men to the moon. Bonuses on the Prime Meridian took Magdalen to 125 just after the 10 minute mark. This gave them a lead of 10 points. What a good contest this was turning out to be.

For the second picture starter nobody recognized a stylised picture of the artist Whistler. Now, a controversial moment here. In a recent Weaver’s Week, it was suggested that one of the teams was unfairly penalized for an early buzz. With the question – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego appear in which book of the Old Testament – Thedore Hill buzzed in with Job and lost 5. Now, I think that was harsh, since JP had completed the question before Roger Tilling announced – Pembroke Hill. Whatever the case, Chris Savory provided the correct answer to earn three more Leslie Ward pictures from Vanity Fair. Two were taken. Nothing deterred by his harsh treatment in the previous bonus Theodore Hill had a great early buzz to identify the area of Karelia for the next starter. Bonuses on the letter Omega produced no points. Theodore Hill’s buzz for the next question, about the so called Father of Australia was again very marginally early, although this was perhaps just a tiny bit more clear cut than the previous infringement. Neither team had it. Hugh Binnie knew that in the Mohs scale orthoclase is followed by quartz. Good shout, that. Medical terms gave them one bonus, but they were in the lead, a lead that was growing, and that was the point. A complicated question led to Hugh Binnie giving the answer of the half life. This brought Magdalen questions on violin concertos, of which they took a full set. Harry Gillow knew that Clint Eastwood once made a film on Iwo Jima. Island bonuses saw the both of us only take one on the Galapagos islands. Pembroke, now out of it, lost another five points on the next starter, when Glen Binnie knew that kinematics is the third branch of mechanics. Novels whose title is a four letter girl’s name only gave them time for two correct answers before the gong.

Now, the final score – 220 to 110 showed that Magdalen had doubled Pembroke’s score. Yet this gives the impression of an easy win for Magdalen, which it wasn’t. Only in the last few minutes did they establish their superiority, and they did it well, too, and deserved to win. Hard lines to Pembroke though. I dare say that if they’d drawn quite a number of the other teams the least they’d have come up with was a repechage slot – but then, them’s the breaks. It was nice to see JP paying them their dues at the end.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Now, what do we know that JP doesn’t like? Getting an English Lit question wrong, especially an easy one. Tom McGhee courted disaster by offering “MRS. Havisham”. “It’s MISS Havisham!” snorted our hero in exasperation, “That’s the whole point!” He let him have the points anyway, “but I’ll accept you got the right person.”
When Magdalen offered Lord Salisbury for the politician from Vanity Fair he interjected,
“It’s nothing like Salisbury! It’s Parnell” Oh, be fair, JP. Both of them had beards you could hide a badger in.

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

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego originally have other names in the book of Daniel 


Gavin Tillman said...

I didn't imagine it then. I too thought a 5 point penalty had been applied to a question that had been fully read out. I didn't play back to check.

Londinius said...

Hi Gavin,

It was extremely marginal. When I played it back, the buzz seemed to come just as JP was saying the last word of the question. That's why JP didn't have to say any more of the question after the incorrect answer. It was very hard lines, but yes, by a fraction of a second it was an early buzz.

Jack said...

I thought those penalties were rather harsh too. It's not like any of the question was missed as a result; will be interesting to see what Mr Weaver makes of this.

In the end, though, it didn't matter; Magdalen went on to win comfortably and impressively, and could well have another good year this series. But Pembroke didn't deserve to lose like that; they were probably a better team than some of the winning teams this series, and would probably have beaten some of them.

On the bonuses, Magdalen converted 21/36 (with one penalty) and Pembroke 12/21 (with four penalties).

So, on Monday, the play-offs begin, with Open playing LSE, then Manchester playing Sussex. LSE apparently survive to the play-offs over Exeter, who lost with the same score, due to getting a larger percentage of the starters asked overall. That's fair enough, and I have no trouble with LSE coming back Exeter, but I can't help feeling Exeter were the better team overall.

k said...

Neither of the questions had been fully read out when Mr Hill buzzed wrongly: he buzzed before "figure", the last word of the Daniel starter; and he buzzed on "nineteen", as Jeremy said 1901 for the Australia starter. On the very last word but also (importantly!) buzzing before the question was finished on both occasions.

I agree that it wasn't at all obvious on first viewing but it's worth remembering that Jeremy has a voice in his ear that's maybe mostly for reminding him to deduct points in cases like this. Can't imagine Weaver will be best pleased but them's the rules.

Londinius said...

Hi K, and welcome to LAM

Well, you're right that they didn't like it very much at Weaver's Week.