Saturday, 21 March 2015

University Challenge - Quarter Final Sudden Death Match

Bristol v. Magdalen, Oxford

Maybe I am doing the Bristol team of Lewis Rendell, Benjamin Moon, Miles Coleman and their captain, Anastasia Reynolds a disservice when I say that I was a wee bit surprised to see them put away Oxford Brookes in their last match. It didn’t exactly get them out of the last chance saloon, but at least it gave them a shot at the semis. Standing in their way, though, were the impressive Magdalen, Oxford team. Tipped as semi finalists themselves, their only stumble ame against the fine Gonville and Caius team. The smart money said that Harry Gillow, Chris Savory, Cameron J. Quinn and their captain Hugh Binnie should prove too good for their opponents, but Bristol had already been written of once and confounded the doubters.

Chris Savory took the first starter, knowing that the Three Gorges Dam is now the world’s largest hydroelectric power station. Three bonuses on border cities provided a full house to open Magdalen’s account, and it was tempting to fear the worst for Bristol even at this stage. Chris Savory took the next starter as well – it was about DNA Ligase apparently. Didn’t they have a minor hit in 1985 with Baby, I want your love thing? Three bonuses on fauna of the British Isles meant they had taken a perfect 50 points from 50. Cameron Quinn made it 60 from 60, knowing that as well as sunflowers, Van Gogh had quite a penchant for painting irises. Guess what – three bonuses asked on Kings of England, and three correct answers given. 75 from 75. I’ll be honest, I don’t know about George Monbiot, but Miles Coleman did to stop the rot and get Bristol off the runway. One bonus on quotations about hope took them to 15. For the picture starter we were shown a map of the UK with several locations all linked by the same word. Nobody knew it was Castle. So the next starter asked about Mozart’s divertimenti, and Hugh Binnie took it. This brought the dubious benefit of the picture bonuses, in this case more places linked by names which began with the same first three letters. One bonus was taken. All of which meant that Magdalen led by 90 – 15 at the ten minute mark, and were looking well in control in this early stage of the game.

Chris Savory answered some mathsy-sciencey thing. This earned bonuses on number theory, and with two bonuses the gap between the teams was up to 95. For the next starter Cameron J. Quinn extended the lead to three figures, knowing the difference between egoism and egotism. The names Harry, Ron and Hermione as used in Shakespeare (sort of) provided another Magdalen full set, as they set sail towards a second century of points. The next question required the teams to spell the answer, which was nitrite. Neither knew it. I lived right on the edge of Blackheath for three years at Uni, so I was pleased to know that Blackheath was the football club which split with the FA and played a leading role in the development of the oval ball game. Nobody had it. Nobody had the Cleopatra’s Nose approach to History either, for that matter. A UC special starter gave a set of definitions, and it was down to the teams to work out that the answers are also name for card games. Hugh Binnie arrived there first, earning bonuses on languages of Russia. Only one bonus was taken, which led us into the music starter. It was Benjamin Moon who was the first to recognize a little bit of Chopin. Of the three more etudes or studies played they took a good full set to take their score to 40. Thus encouraged, Miles Coleman took the next starter for Bristol as well, knowing a set of characters created by Ben Jonson – this was before he became disqualified for using drugs in the 1988 Men’s 100m final. Another full set, this time on alkanes put them up to 65. Benjamin Moon was the first to recognize a description of the term savanna. This brought up a couple of bonuses on Portuguese writers, and now they were up to 85. It was a good fightback, and happening at exactly the right point of the game too. A UC special set on multiplying a number of prime ministers by another number of prime ministers fell to neither team. The next starter was funny. Asked about US servicemen in a famous photo, raising the flag on a pacific island, Cameron Quinn was first in and offered Okinawa, much to the consternation of this team mates who seemed to all know it was in fact Iwo Jima. I bet he knew too, and it was just one of those times. So Miles Coleman accepted that windfall. A UC special set on words which can be made from the letters of the word curvaceous meant that in the space of the last few minutes plucky Bristol had lowered the gap from over 100 points to 35, as Magdalen led by 140 – 105.

Harry Gillow knew that Virgil wrote his Eclogues. Historical questions linked with the word Iron provided two bonuses. Now, you see a photo of a white haired old gent, and you’re told it’s a 20th century US poet, you slap your buzzer and answer Robert Frost. Very occasionally it might be Carl Sandberg, but you’ll rarely go wrong with Frost. Cameron Quinn had that one. More 20th century US writers followed, but they only took the one. The formula for calculating the volume of a cone - 1/3 H piR squared – was supplied by Hugh Binnie. A full set would take them to 200, and they achieved just that. That looked to be a winning lead now, but Bristol weren’t finished yet. Anastasia Reynolds knew that the London street with 6 consecutive consonants was Knightsbridge. Cells in the immune system took them to 120 points. LX multiplied by IX is DCLX as Hugh Binnie was the first to answer for the next starter. Waterfalls took them to 240, and with virtually no time left Miles Coleman took a flyer on barotitis affecting the veins, and lost 5. Nobody knew it was the ear. Cameron Quinn recognized the names of several Ottoman Sultans. There was no time left for the bonuses on airports. The final score was 250 – 115. Magdalen were very comfortable winners in the end, but well played Bristol as well for coming back after the Magdalen blitz start.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Our hero was relatively well behaved until the Harry, Hermione and Ron bonus set. The first two were about Harrys and Hermiones in Shakespeare. The second began “Although Shakespeare never had a character called Ronald – God, this is laboured !” He moaned. Well said , Jez! – although don’t remember, this is all part of the charm of it too.

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

Blaise Pascal popularized the Cleopatra’s Nose approach to History, which concentrates on the effects of chance events 


Jack said...

I think most of us expected Magdalen to win that, but kudos to Bristol for not quite letting them walk all over them, and briefly narrowing the match. A respectable effort.

Bristol's loss does, however, mean that there are no women left in this year's contest. The three confirmed semi-finalists, plus the two teams who will play-off for the final place on Monday, are all all-male. I may chose to deal with this is greater depth on JOW some time next week.

Magdalen's semi-final form will depend on who they meet. If, as I expect whatever happens on Monday, the meet St Peter's, it could be fascinating.

On the bonuses, Bristol converted 12/18 (with one penalty) and Magdalen 26/36 (with two penalties). Good work by both sides there. Bristol have certainly proved themselves worthy of the QFs.

So, on Monday, Liverpool play Durham for the final SF place. And then we're into the home stretch!

Stephen Follows said...

Yet another classical music fail from a BBC2 quiz: the Paganini piece they played was a caprice, not a study, so it had absolutely no place in the question. Plenty of other composers - including lots of piano composers - they could have chosen.

By the way, was it coincidence or a naughty cameraman which meant that we got a full-frame shot of the Bristol captain at the precise moment that Jeremy said 'Curvaceous'?

k said...

Stephen, I understood the music question to be a set of composers who'd written variations on Paganini's 24th Caprice, with the Caprice itself acting as a denouement. Perhaps the wording left a little to be desired but there you go.

Stephen Follows said...

Well, k, I've just watched it again and at no time does Jeremy say anything about the variations link - which doesn't apply to Chopin in any case. He just says all the pieces are etudes or studies, which they aren't.

Not as bad as the massive classical music cock-up in last Monday's 'Only Connect', mind you.

k said...

Whoops - yes, you're right. In my mind, I'd muddled the "Brahms" from the OC question into the University Challenge set.

Stephen Follows said...

You mean there was some Brahms in OC?