Saturday, 21 February 2015

University Challenge - Quarter Final Qualification Match 1

Liverpool v. St. Peter’s, Oxford

The Liverpool team of Ben Mawdsley, Jim Davis,  Hugh Hiscock,and their captain, Declan Crew defeated Bristol in their first quarter final match to place one collective foot in the semi-finals. Standing in their way though was the seemingly irresistible force of St. Peter’s Oxford. The team of John Armitage, Ed Roberts, Spike Smith and their skipper, Gabriel Trueblood defeated Oxford, Brookes in their own first quarter final, and many people are already tipping them as potential finalists.

Jim Davis was, in my opinion, very unlucky to have his answer of The Watergate Hotel ruled wrong for the answer to the first question. This left St. Peter’s, who themselves were sure that it was Watergate, a little nonplussed for a moment, until their skipper Gabriel Trueblood buzzed in with a speculative – Watergate . . . building? Now, I don’t so much have a problem with the adjudication that Hotel specifically was wrong. But this is a consistency point. Because we’ve all seen times when JP has been allowed to say words to the effect of – well, specifically it was the . . . but you’re close enough etc. etc. – Which meant that either every answer in this show would need to be spot on if we were going to be consistent.  Well, I’ve no doubt that everyone will have their own opinion on that one. St. Peter’s answered two out of three bonuses on Greek Islands. A group of clues to the word fifth allowed Liverpool’s own top buzzer, Hugh Hiscock, into the show. A full house on chemical elements put them level with their opponents. I took a flyer on Sydenham’s chorea with St. Vitus Dance, and as soon as the question mentioned that it takes its name from an early Christian martyr Hugh Hiscock supplied the same answer. They took two correct answers. Declan Crew buzzed in just a little too early on a question leading to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, allowing Gabriel Trueblood to take his second starter. This brought up bonuses on words containing the letter combination a – e – a . A full house put them ten points ahead. Now, the first picture starter showed an irrational number thingy. Whatever it all meant it was Spike Smith who provided the correct answer of the square root of two. More of the same brought a full house, and since I answered Pi to each one, I ended up with a Maths bonus as well, since it actually was the answer to the last. Right, in the next starter Ed Roberts gave the answer ‘Head of the Civil Service’ to a question which really wanted the answer ‘Cabinet Secretary’ which is the name of the post. Now, yes, the Cabinet Secretary is the head of the Civil Service, but if JP was applying the letter of the question, it might not have been allowed. One bonus was taken on heroes, and this meant that at the 10 minute mark St. Peter’s had a useful lead of 85 to 35.

A mathsy/physicsy thing about Newton seconds and tennis balls was correctly answered by Declan Crew. Bonuses on palaeontology brought nothing – they weren’t easy by any means. I knew Richard Owen coined the term dinosaur. but that was it. Hugh Hiscock won the buzzer race to identify Alfred Dreyfus as the French officer imprisoned in the 1890s, thus earning a bonus on time and calendars. John Armitage answered what I believe was his first starter of this year’s series, knowing that Finland is the most densely forested country in Europe. Here’s a funny coincidence. We had that exact same question in the league, on exactly the same night. This earned St. Peter’s a set of bonuses on the Nobel Peace Prize and Latin America. These were too hard, and none of us got any bonuses. Now, I recognised the voice of Elton John pretty quickly, if not the song, for the music bonus, but it seemed like ages before Ben Mawdsley buzzed in to say the same. This earned the music bonuses all of which took their inspiration form the works of Shakespeare. One correct answer took them to within 15 points of St. Peter’s. Gabriel Trueblood took the next starter, knowing that the term guerrilla came into parlance during the Peninsular War. He’s a medical student, and he doesn’t make mistakes on his own subject, so took three correct answers on cranial nerves. Now, funnily enough I also had the chemistry starter which provided Gabriel Trueblood’s next starter. For some reason I took a punt with benzene, which proved correct for both of us. One History bonus was all that this yielded. I was a little surprised that nobody knew Bach’s Coffee Cantata, but there you go. On the cusp of the 20 minute mark St. Peter’s had pulled out the lead again, and the score was now 135 to 80.

There really isn’t much excuse for not knowing that George Washington’s portrait is on the one dollar bill, and it fell to Spike Smith to supply the correct answer. A UC special set on words followed, asking for a set fo words which can be made using any of the letters in the word – challenge. These are often sets that promise a full house, and St. Peter’s didn’t make any mistake with them. The second picture starter showed the Duke of Wellington, and Spike Smith took his second consecutive starter. Two bonuses on other Prime Ministers stretched the lead to 100 points now. Declan Crew was a little unfortunate to offer a hyperbola for the geometrical figure defined in the next starter, but it fell to John Armitage to take his second starter of the evening with an ellipse. A full house of bonuses on Haralds was duly taken. At this stage of the game the collective foot of St. Peter’s was pressing the pedal to the metal, and Liverpool just couldn’t find a second gear. Hugh Hiscock knew Louis Althusser for the next starter – good shout, that. German social philosophers offered but little, but two good answers took Liverpool into triple figures, and that was no less than they deserved. Now, if you hear the word Hesperus, you have to go for your buzzer and answer Venus. That’s what Gabriel Trueblood did. Biology bonuses provided none of us with anything, but it really didn’t matter, since St. Peter’s were by now comfortably into the semis. A little surprisingly neither of the teams knew the Pretender Perkin Warbeck for the next starter. Gabriel Trueblood knew that the Benguela current takes its name from a sea port in Angola – good shout. Two bonuses on Japanese public holidays added a little more gilding to the score. Both teams sat on their buzzers for a while after being asked who was the first American dramatist to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Eventually Spike Smith gave the correct answer of Charlie Chaplin’s father in law – or Eugene O’Neill, if you prefer. There wasn’t time for St. Peter’s to answer correctly any of the bonuses on regions of Spain. All of which meant that the final score was 245 to 100.

Well, it answered the question, what might happen on a night when Gabriel Trueblood has some real competition on the buzzer? There was buzzing throughout the St. Peter’s team in this game, and they also faced a stiff test in the shape of a good Liverpool team, who pushed them hard throughout the first half of the show, until they really hit top form. As for Liverpool, well, it isn’t going to be easy now, but they can still come back and make it through.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When Liverpool couldn’t dredge up ‘The Light Of The World’ JP explained , ‘It’s the one with the lantern’ and then held up an imaginary lantern to demonstrate. I’m looking forward to his mime of deoxyribonucleic acid.
Was there just a wee smidgeon of sarcasm in JPs voice as he said farewell to the irrational numbers with the words ‘Everyone at home will have been working those out with great pleasure, I have no doubt.’
His comment about the Elton John song “That was released in 1970, that’s social pre-history for you, really.” – now that was definitely sarcastic.

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

Mumford and Sons’ “Sigh No More” is inspired by “Much Ado About Nothing”


Stephen Follows said...

Totally agree about the Watergate question. There are some even more bizarre decisions in this week's Only Connect, though.

Londinius said...

Hi Stephen. Are we perhaps talking about the Pardon question? At least Victoria did give the Orienteers the chance to amend their answer.

More bizarre for me was Victoria's long, and not particularly interesting anecdote about Rowan Williams and Patrick Swayze!

Jack said...

As far as my views on Watergate-gate are concerned, it was unfortunate, but probably right. If Mr Davis had just said 'Watergate', he probably would've been given the points. But he added too much unnecessary info and got penalised as a result; I distinctly remember my French teacher telling us that we'd lose marks for that in our exams.

Dubious allowances aside, this was a pretty good match; close at first, until St Peter's pulled away in the second half. A true team effort too, with all four contributing freely. This, if anything, enhances their chances of making it through the semis.

Agreed that Liverpool will need to pull hard to make the semis now; by my reckoning, they'll be playing either Durham or Trinity next; both should be interesting viewing.

Both sides were adequate on the bonuses: Liverpool 10/18 (with two penalties) and St Peter's 23/39.

On Monday, my guess is it will be Bristol vs Oxford Brookes, followed by Caius vs Magdalen then Durham vs Trinity.

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

Seems to me like the old adage, discussed in LAM before of course, about when a question asks for names - if the first name isn't asked for, you can get the points with just the surname, but if you give it anyway and it's wrong, you don't get the point even if the surname is correct.

That it explicitly wasn't the hotel indicates that it shouldn't have been given. If a question refers to a human finger, and someone gives the answer "fingernail", I wouldn't be accepting it as it is explicitly an incorrect part of the correct area, if that works as an analogy?

This match for me underlined how strong St Peters are. Yes, Trueblood was their standout again, but he's not in this alone and the others are certainly playing their part. Unless Trueblood has a true shocker, they will take a heck of a lot of beating. Liverpool are a dangerous team, though they'll need to up their game a bit in the next match - anyone can have an off-day, but you don't get away with two in UC!

Londinius said...

Hi Jack, Hi Adam,

Well, as I said, different people will have different opinions about the Watergate adjudication. I don't mind an adherence to the strict letter of the answer, as long as its applied consistently. I've just seen similar 'near miss' answers accepted before - by my perception of the usual application of leeway in answers on UC, that was a bit of a harsh adjudication.

But of course - that's just my opinion, and as always, feel free to disagree.

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

I can't say I do disagree, as there have been multiple eyebrow-raising inconsistent moments in this series. To me, it should have been considered as a likely answer and prepared for when the question was posed.

There have been a few moments of inconsistency, and while few have had any real impact on the result, this can't be considered to be a one-off within this run.