Manchester v. Sussex
Manchester teams have a lot to live up to, since their record in the Paxman era is second to none. This year’s team of Edmund Chapman, Matthew Stallard, Charlie Rowlands and captain John Ratcliffe faced a stern test in their first round match when they lost out 160 – 190 in a quality match against Selwyn. Well, we have seen before that it is possible for a team to go all the way once they’ve negotiated the repechage round. Standing in their way were Tom Whitehurst, David Spence, Matthew Dean and Joss Macdonald from the University of Sussex. I won’t lie, I was delighted that Sussex made it through to the repechage since they were denied a fair answer to a starter by an extremely contentious ruling in the first round. Sussex scored 150 against St. Peter’s, who scored 205. On paper, then, very little in it.
Matthew Stallard took the first starter. JP began with a quote about a website. I threw Wikipedia onto the table, as did Matthew Stallard a moment or two later. Bonuses on Cicero yielded one bonus. John Ratcliffe buzzed early when he recognised the definition of a tablet, and the bonuses which followed on penal colonies provided a further ten points. The next starter was a good old film chestnut. “Known for her forthright and outspoken views on life, which actress won her first Oscar for Morning Glory –“ and at this point I gave the answer Katharine Hepburn – but nobody buzzed until the question ended with “. . . On Golden Pond?” All too young, I guess, but neither Jane Fonda nor Vivien Leigh brought the points. Asked for a seven letter word which could mean a device to regulate the flow and depth of water, or a balloon used as a defence against air attacks, John Ratcliffe buzzed in early, and then found the answer would not pass beyond the tip of his tongue. This allowed Joss Macdonald to open the account for Sussex with barrage. Two correct answers on the probability bonuses were given. I got one of them myself, and that wasn’t probable at all. Matthew Stallard buzzed in first for the picture starter. It wasn’t really a classic picture starter, since all he had to do was to say which national football teams were nicknamed Canarinhos – Nationalelf – Azzuri. I liked the bonuses. In these they were given three footballing terms, each rendered in Portuguese, German and Italian. This gave them, but not me, their first full house of the contest. Joss Macdonald took his and his team’s second starter, with a JP Donleavy quote about sex. Nobel prize winning writers – alright, Aung San Suu Kyi didn’t win for literature, but it was still about something she wrote – brought one bonus. This left the score at 55 – 30 to Manchester as we passed the ten minute mark.
Matthew Dean recognised the names of four species of tapir to reduce the deficit further earning bonuses on Trent Bridge. Now, asked for the name of the Middlesex batsman who scored the highest individual innings, Sussex knew it was Dennis Compton (sorry, but due to Fawlty Towers, whenever I hear the name of the great Dennis Compton, the words ‘cloth-eared bint’ inevitably follow in my head), but said Middlesex first, and thus failed to get the points, due to the first answer rule. Once again, no leeway whatsoever allowed to Sussex. The one bonus they managed reduced the gap to ten points. Nobody knew that Peel sent Lord Ashburton to the USA to resolve border and maritime search issues. Both teams waited as the next starter gradually unfurled, but as soon as the words Sinhala language were said it was Tom Whitehurst who won the buzzer race, to answer Sri Lanka, and put Sussex level with Manchester. They couldn’t manage any of the bonuses on authors born in 1914. When Tom Whitehurst identified the dulcet tones of David Hasselhof for the music starter he looked most embarrassed. Three more top selling hits (in Germany) in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall came down, followed. Now, as you know, pop music ended for me in 1986, so the only one I got was Enya. Sussex managed one more, and now had a lead of 20. Given a description of one of the events of the opening chapter of a nineteenth century novel, Matthew Stallard chanced his arm with a pure guess of Jane Eyre, and fortune in this case favoured the brave. A full house of bonuses on bio chemistry put Manchester back in the lead. John Ratcliffe knew that the ferro magnetic element in question used in staining glass is cobalt for the next starter. The team took two bonuses on Labout MP Ellen Wilkinson – who incidentally had a girls’ school in the London Borough of Ealing named after her – but didn’t know that the 1944 Education Act she implemented was named after R.A. Butler. The next starter gave a quote by Tchaikovsky about an opera set in Seville. Nobody fancied it until Edmund Chapman chanced his arm with Carmen. Correctly so, Seville being the big giveaway. I had a full house on Geological history, but the team missed out on Wegener, taking the other two. Didn’t matter, At the twenty minute mark they were pulling away again, and led by 120 – 75.
A lead which increased when they recognized a painting by Georges Seurat. Three more artworks that featured in the John Hughes film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and two correct answers made their lead look formidable. Not that Sussex were finished. Tom Whitehurst recognized a definition of the word quartile. A nice UC set about winners of the Carbuncle Cup for Britain’s ugliest building followed, of which they managed two. A very quick buzz from Charlie Rowlands snatched away that small spark of hope for Sussex, as he identified varieties of coriander – a good shout that. One bonus was taken on JS Bach. For the next starter, after being given the full question about a work of literature, nobody seemed to fancy it, so once again Matthew Stallard, mindful of his success with Jane Eyre, took another speculative punt with The Compleat Angler, and once again the ball sailed sweetly between the posts. We both scored a full house on entemology. None of us knew that the shortest border between two ceremonial English counties lies between Lincolnshire and Northants. Edmund Chapman knew that several events all occurred in the 1490s. The bonuses on Kings called Edward were gettable, but Manchester dropped one. It didn’t matter, the match was well and truly won by this stage. Charlie Rowlands knew that Khaled Hosseini write of One Thousand splendid suns. I didn’t think we’d have time for bonuses on national Parks, and indeed we didn’t. The gong brought the contest to a close, with Manchester clear winners by 210 to 95.
JP did his usual – well, you didn’t really get into your stride at all there, did you, to Sussex. That’s unfair. They were well in the contest until the last 12 minutes or so. Then Manchester were just too strong, and too quick on the buzzer. So the Manchester express is well and truly back on the rails. Well played both – good game.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
With the sex question Sussex seemed so relieved to get it right that JP observed smilingly,
“How sweetly baffled you look.”
He put into words what we were all thinking when he said to Tom Whitehurst who answered the David Hasselhof ‘music’ starter – “God, you have confess to embarrassing news on this show.”
When John Ratcliffe offered Degas as the artist of the second artwork in the picture set he rather sniffily replied,
“No, Toulouse-Lautrec. Inimitable, I’d say.”
When Matthew Stallard gave the Compleat Angler answer, he hailed it with “You’re a damn good guesser.”
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
Nationalelf is a nickname of the German national football team. I used to get my glasses on them.