Saturday, 29 November 2014

University Challenge - Round Two - Match Three

Magdalen, Oxford v. Open University

In the first round, the scoreline suggests that Magdalen’s team of Harry Gillow, Chris Savory, Cameron J. Quinn and their captain Hugh Binnie had a relatively easy match against Pembroke. The fact was that it was only in the last few minutes that they had managed to pull away and apply the coup de grace. Their opponents, the Open University Team of Danielle Gibney, Stuart Taylor, Kate Law, and their captain Lynne Jones, had a rather more difficult passage, losing in the first round to Leicester. Leicester, fancied after this performance to do well, were knocked out a couple of weeks ago by Trinity. Could the OU, who had knocked out the LSE in the repechage, do better? I said in my comments on the previous second round match that I thought that the OU were in danger of being buzzed out of it. Time would tell whether I would be right, or whether Gypsy Rose Clark would be on his usual form.

I haven’t read Morrissey’s autobiography yet, but I guessed this was the answer to the first question, and Kate Law was first in for that. A relatively benign set of bonuses on poetry of the first world war saw them take a full house. The next starter asked for the 1872 novel described by many people as The Greatest English Novel. Cameron Quinn was first in with Middlemarch. I remember the late Richard Hoggart talking to us about the novel’s reputation in a seminar early on a Wednesday morning during my first year at Goldies. Marco Polo’s Il Milione was a rather more difficult set of bonuses, and Magdalen managed 2 of them. One of those horrible arithmetic problems followed, but when it swerved to ask for the name of an Italian mathematician I went for my stock answer of Fibonacci. Hugh Binnie gave the same answer, but to be fair he looked like he actually knew that it was the correct answer. Bonuses on the operas of Wagner. This time they took a full set. On the next question you could well see why I thought that the OU were in danger of being buzzed out of the show. The next long winded starter began by mentioning an English philosopher born in 1561 – both the teams waited – whose work “Novum Organum – “ bang! As soon as that clue was given Cameron Quinn buzzed straight in with Francis Bacon, as well he should, for it was right. Bonuses on the Galileo spacecraft brought another 10 points. For the picture starter we saw the opening lines of a book, and both teams dwelt on the buzzer a little before Kate Law chanced her arm with Dracula, which was correct. As is the way with picture sets, more of the same followed, with extracts from other epistolary literary works. They were unlucky to zig with Clarissa, when the same author’s Pamela would have brought them 5 points. We all recognised The Colour Purple. Just short of the ten minute mark the scores stood at 65 – 40 to Magdalen. We had a contest, but the indications were that Magdalen would continue to pull ahead, and when it came to a buzzer race, they would win more than they’d lose.

As was proven by the next starter, which Hugh Binnie buzzed in for as soon as it became clear that the figure from US political history being described was John Quincy Adams. A UC special set followed – did you know that Meg Ryan is an anagram of Germany? Magdalen did, and the other two as well. I didn’t know the Kerr Effect, and neither did the teams, so let’s gloss over that and move on to the next starter. Again, superior buzzing brought Magdalen the points, Asked for a comedian born in New York in the 1890s, as soon as JP mentioned his greasepaint moustache Cameron Quinn was in for it. Other people born in the same decade provided a full set, and took them through the three figure barrier. Asked for the subject of a painting, when JP told us it represented the death of an Austrian Archduke named Emperor of Mexico, essentially all the teams had to do was to answer – who was the Austrian Archduke made Emperor of Mexico and executed shortly after. Chris Savory was in for his first starter on that one. Magdalen just don’t know their ancient Egyptian cities, and didn’t get a sausage on that set. Emboldened by his previous success Chris Savory buzzed in for the next starter, but did so too early, and lost 5. Given the full question it became clear to Danielle Gibney that the answer was manometer. Thermodynamics did nothing for me, but at least the OU managed one of the bonuses. The music set began a question asking for the name of the piece’s composer, a British one primarily active in the 20th century. “Vaughan Williams!” I shouted before the piece played. It usually is, although I concede that Benjamin Britten would be another possibility in most cases. Chris Savory confirmed that my prediction was correct after a couple of bars. Three more fantasias followed of which they managed one. Cameron Quinn, so adept at snapping up the obvious ones before they became totally obvious, buzzed in to identify the word cataract as the waterfall/eye condition. Bonuses on rivers provided ten more points to a total that was already looking like a winning one, although they missed the various rivers Stour. Lynne Jones did not look at all confident when asked for the name of the a specific Chinese dynasty, but the Tang brought her the points, and a set of bonuses on bird anatomy. A full set was timely and necessary, for right on the 20 minute mark Magdalen still led by 155 to the OU’s 80.

Double digit primes is not something you’d mention in everyday conversation, and whatever the question was about, nobody had it. Cameron Quinn recognised a definition of the word canapĂ© for the next question. Australian cities were no more to their liking than Egyptian ones, and no more points were accrued from that set of bonuses. Chris Savory recognised a still from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. A really terrific set of bonuses on stills from classics of German Expressionist cinema gave me a full house, and Magdalen as well, putting them just a starter away from 200. Danielle Gibney, originally from the Netherlands, knew that the capital of Limburg province is Maastricht. That’s the way that the cookie crumbles sometimes. It was unlikely to make a material difference to the outcome of the show. Bonuses linked by the colour black were again a rather benign set and provided a full house. Now, when you hear the name Howard Staunton you buzz on and say ‘chess’. That’s what Hugh Binnie did. Mathematic bonuses took me out of the equation for the bonus set, should you pardon the pun, but Magdaken managed one of them. Stuart Taylor knew that 500 million years ago we were in the Cambrian Era. Bonuses on Wales promised a few pronunciation problems. Swansea’s welsh name does indeed mean – at the mouth of the river Tawe – but it’s pronounced like TOWIE rather than taw. 1 bonus. Danielle Gibney won the buzzer race to link Trollope and Hope as Anthonys. European History did nothing for them – thought I was pleased with myself for drgging the name of John Sobieski from the dark recesses. Nobody knew the bond angle in a water molecule. You don’t say. Harry Gillow at this late stage managed a lovely early buzz to answer that it was Augustus who claimed that he found Rome in brick etc etc. 2 bonuses on God Save the Queen were enough to bring the contest to a conclusion. Magdalen were comfortable winners on 225 to Open’s 130.

Well, what can I say? OU were buzzed out of it as I had predicted. Don’t worry – it’s surely just a fluke, and doubtless my batting average will return to utter garbage as the series progresses. Very well played Magdalen – a team who could go quite a bit further, it seems to me. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

We’re used to JP getting shirty about English literature. In this one, when asked for a particular French Mathematician Magdalen offered, “Lebesgue” – pronounced as it is spelled, only to be sniffily informed,
“Yes, that’s how it’s spelt, it’s normally pronounced Lebeg.” Give them the points and leave it there, Jez. Don’t pretend that you’d know if it wasn’t written on the card.

A flash of the old JP came out when Magdalen made a bit of a pig’s ear of the Australian bonuses. “Your knowledge of Australian Geography is terrible!” he rather unkindly pointed out. Mind you, he was chuckling as he did so, as were Magdalen.

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

Groucho Marx once wrote a book called Memoirs of a Mangy Lover. Mangy Lover? Wasn’t that a number one for Phil Collins and Phillip Bailey?


Jack said...

The Tawe pronunciation thing happened on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue as well, when they did some shows in south Wales, and Rob Brydon was forced to correct Jack Dee's 'taw'.

Another pleasant match between two sides who probably deserved to go further than the second round. Agreed that Open were let down by the buzzer. I guess this could also show why Leicester struggled second time around: they were able to get more starters against the careful Open team than the more risk averse Trinity team.

Therefore, we shall have to wait and see how Magdalen fare in the QFs, given they did better here than they did against the Pembroke team who were more prepared to take risks.

On the bonuses, Magdalen converted 22/36 (with one penalty) and Open 12/21, both good rates.

On Monday, another potentially good match, between Caius and Manchester.

Gavin Tillman said...

Paxo mispronounced Lebesgue also. Last syllable rhymes with vague

Londinius said...

Hi Guys

I'll be honest, I quite liked the cut of Magdalen's jib in this one - but of course it's difficult to tell when OU were so - and I'm sorry to harp on about this - slow on the buzzer. It did worry me their obvious gaps on relatively simple Geography, but hey, maybe it was just those particular questions.

Hi Gavin

Doesn't surprise me in the least.

Kalina said...

On the bond angle of a water molecule, I think Binnie was going by the generally accepted angle of 104.5 degrees, which rounds up to 105. The authors of the question, however, had gone with the more precise measurement of 104.45, which *does* round up to 104.5 and thus to 105, but is actually closer to 104 than to 105.

I think this was a bad question and shouldn't have been used.

Cromarty(IV) said...

I have to agree with Kalina regarding the bond angle question - as a chemist, I've only ever heard the bond angle in water being quoted as 104.5. I wouldn't have been able to pull 104.45 out of my hat, so this question should have been avoided.

They could have said "you can have one degree either way", but then 103 would arguably be out by 2 units, so that wouldn't have helped.

Andrew B. said...

Re Lebesgue: I've usually heard "Le-baig", but "Le-beg" is apparently the correct French pronunciation.

Stephen Follows said...

And he mispronounced the name of the henchman in 'Tristan und Isolde' - it's spelt KurWenal, but pronounced KurVenal. Paxman can always be relied on to stuff up German pronunciation, which is weird considering how consistent it is.