Monday, 24 August 2015

University Challenge 2016: Round One Heat 6

Institute of Cancer Research London v. St. George’s London

And so to a London derby. Not just a London derby, but a London University derby. Not just a London University derby, but a derby between two colleges specializing in the Sciences. The Institute of Cancer Research team consisted of Stuart Rankin, Ravindhi Nathavitharana, Josh Meyers and their skipper Sabrina Talukdar. Their opposition was provided by St. George’s who in their turn were represented by
Alex Costley-White, Charles Nicholas, Lucy Studd and their own captain Tom Burns.

As soon as the first question asked in which sport the first world championship was contested between Transylvania and Flanders I had the feeling that Transylvania meant that we were dealing with Quidditch. Tom Burns was the first one to buzz, and thus earned his team bonuses on quotations by Nobel prize winning scientists, of which they took 2. Nobody knew that Marguerite Johnson, but Tom Burns, shaking his head as he did so, guessed correctly. Their bonuses were on Jeanette Winterson, and I recognized the first lines from “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit”. St. George’s only managed the one bonus. Charles Nicholas won the buzzer race to recognize various definitions of the word Muse. Two bonuses on Mercury Music Prize winners took their score to 55 unanswered points. Charles Nicholas took his second starter in a row, knowing that two African country whose names differ only in their initial letters are Gambia and Zambia. Terms beginning with oo brought them another 5 points, and you sensed that JP was maybe preparing his never-popular “Don’t worry, plenty of time left” speech for the Institute. You know you’re in trouble when he tells you that. The picture round showed us all the railway stops on a railway line between two UK cities. Dyce airport showed that one was Aberdeen, and Elgin showed that the other had to be Inverness. Stuart Rankin took that one much to his team’s relief, and JP popped the comment back into the box for another day. They took one of the bonuses, which were all more of the same. So at the 10 minute mark despite being second best for most of the last few minutes they had pulled back the gap to 50, as they trailed 65-15.

Nobody recognized Dylan Thomas from the next starter. However a biology starter on the word capsid fell to Sabrina Talukdar. Two bonuses on team GB in the 2014 Winter Olympics made their score look a lot more healthy. Alex Costley-White knew the work about the financial crisis called “Too Big To Fail” This brought bonuses on Holst’s Planets Suite, but the three bonuses went begging. Charles Nicholas recognized the famous quote about sitting on top of a rocket, thinking about the fact that it had been built by the lowest bidder, made by John Glenn. Adaptations of plays by Shakespeare took them to the brink of a triple figure score. For the music starter Ravindhi Nathavitharana was very quick to recognize the tones of Michael Jackson when he was just a wee nipper in the Jackson 5 with his brothers. Three bonuses featuring bands or artists whose names also contained the names of US presidents followed, and these proved to be more difficult for the team. As did the last two Communist Party MPs in the UK. Tom Burns knew that the Choral symphony is Beethoven’s 9th. This brought triple figures and a set of bonuses on low temperatures. I didn’t understand the questions, and none of us knew the answers. Move on. Oh goody, another biochemistry question followed. Tom Burns had it. Bonuses on Mediterranean Islands only provided another 5 points. At the 20 minute mark St George’s led 120 – 45 – which probably was not a reflection of how comfortably they were winning the buzzer race, but up to this point they just weren’t putting away the bonuses.

Lucy Studd was first in on the second picture starter to identify a still from the film Fargo. Other culturally important or significant films brought them their first full house. Suddenly they had a 100 point lead. Sabrina Talukdar was first in to spell effervescent correctly for the next starter. A rather lovely UC special bonus set followed – where the team were given a list of words which would come up when the name of a city was googled – for example castle – Festival etc for Edinburgh. Two correct answers put them up to 65. This seemed to galvanise The Institute a little for Sabrina Talukdar won the buzzer race to take her second consecutive starter, knowing that Robert Graves wrote “The White Goddess”. World heritage sites in Africa brought them nowt. Nobody knew that the A in ADSL stands for asymmetric.  Alec Costley-White knew that Kazakhstan is the world’s 9th largest country. I suspect that had the question been completed it might have said – and the world’s largest landlocked country – still, a very good shout that. 5 points on William Morris followed. Nobody knew that the Pritzker prize is in the field of architecture. Charles Nicholas worked out that the word mimic is an anagram of the roman numerals for 2102. Nursing procedures offered a potential full house, but there was no great necessity for it in terms of the match, and they managed 2. Charles Nicholas knew that Shield – United FC – Eagles can each be preceded by Sheffield. There was no time for Malay words in English, and at the gong the score was 190 – 70.

In the end, a very convincing win for St. George’s, although I’m not yet convinced they’ll be going much further in the competition. Time will tell – first round form is notoriously unreliable. Well played, and hard lines to the Institute for Cancer Research.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Not much this week. When The Institute for Cancer Research failed to identify Jeffersion Airplane he gave them a wry look before replying ,”You’re too wholesome, I imagine, for it.”
He hates the teams getting literature questions wrong, does our Jez, but he’s also not happy when they miss out on UK politics as well. When neither team guessed that both of the last Communist party MPs lost their seats in 1950 he gave a look as if an invisible puppy had just defecated under his nose.
After giving the correct answer to a question – The Bose-Einstein Concentrate – he cheekily asked ‘did you understand that?- Well, be honest Jez, did you?
When Alec Costley-White buzzed in immediately to answer that the 9th largest country in the world is Kazakhstan our JP seemed very impressed – asking him if he knew the other 8. “No!” he smiled. Blooming good answer anyway. Not that JP could allow him any satisfaction in his answer “What a weird thing to know” he offered by way of a Parthian shot.
With the nursing bonuses you just knew that JP would have a field day is St George’s had any wrong, and when they failed to identify a method of artificial respiration he chortled “I don’t think you’re ready to operate yet.” Predictable, Mr. P., predictable.

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

The skeleton bobsled event in the Winter Olympics is also called the Cresta.


Jack said...

Not a terribly close match this, but two pleasant enough teams. St George's were the better team overall on the buzzer, and that's what won the game, as neither side were that good on the bonuses: I.C.R. only managed 6/15 and St George's 15/33.

It's unclear how St George's will fare next time, as, while they did decently on the buzzer, but there were quite a few science based questions that they may have benefited from. We shall see.

Tonght's match is an Oxbridge match between Christ's for Cambridge and Kellogg for Oxford. Next week, Sussex play Queen's of Belfast.

Anonymous said...

Bose Einstein is a condensate rather than concentrate. It is an interesting state of matter. Although I do humanities, I find JP's irony about questions on sciences really annoying. Having said that, there were too many special questions on medicine and biology in that game. Perhaps it is only my impression, but probably it was done on purpose to match the teams strengths.