Saturday, 17 September 2016

University Challenge - Edinburgh v. Durham

Hoo- blooming-ray. At long last we have a non-English University. Edinburgh were represented by Luke Dale, Euan Smith, Emily Goddard, and their skipper Joe Boyle. Durham, that rarity, a collegiate University appearing as a single entity, were represented by Thomas Brophy, Owen Stenner-Matthews, Nat Guillou, and their captain Cressida O’Connor.

Cressida O’Connor was the first to answer that it was the Rubik’s Cube invented in 1974. In 1981 I once managed to complete one in 56 seconds. Mind you, the world record at the time was under half that. Bonuses on Norah Ephron. We both took two bonuses. Incidentally, Mrs. Londinius, making a rare viewing of UC with me, distinguished herself in this set by suggesting that Norah Ephron scripted a film called “Silkworm”. Bless. Cressida O’Connor lost five by buzzing in too early on ‘vandalism’, allowing Luke Dale to scoop the pot. Astronomy bonuses on the solar system brought both of us a full set. Normally a single correct Science answer is enough for a lap of honour for me. I suggested to Mrs. L. that she join me in a Mexican wave at this point. Her reply was spherical and in the plural. Now I’d say if you’re asked about a psychologist who wrote something in 1918, Freud is always going to be in the ballpark, and it certainly allowed Cressida O’Connor to take her second starter. Campaigning organisations looked promising, but were actually a lot harder than I expected, and I thought that Durham did well to get 1. The picture starter showed a map with an island highlighted. Nat Guillou took a punt with Gotland and was right to do so. This brought up three flags of UK islands. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get Anglesey either, but had the two that Durham had. Nobody knw that the new recommendation is that men drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. I don’t get through 14 in a year – don’t like the stuff. Both teams sat on their buzzers a bit I thought for the next starter. Novel . . . unusual vocabulary . . . Paris. . . 1092 – if that doesn’t shout Ulysses, then you’re probably playing the wrong game. Owen Stenner-Matthews took it, and earned a set on British theatres. They failed to score, but even so led by 60 – 25 at the 10 minute mark, after by far the better buzzer work.

Emily Goddard began the fight back, recognising a series of definitions of words beginning with sph.  Bonuses on chemical elements saw me miss the first, but knowing that the others began with the same letters saw me get the last. “You dare!” warned Mrs. L. as I rose from the sofa. Euan Smith recognised a group of people with the surname Strauss. Writers born in Shropshire weren’t all easy, but they should have known Owen for Futility. The music starter saw Owen Stenner-Matthews recognise the strains of Gorillaz’ Clint Eastwood very quickly. The bonuses saw them given three other songs referencing film stars. They didn’t recognise Roxy Music which I did, neither of us had Bauhaus, and we both had REM. US artist – death – car accident. You hear these words, you go for the buzzer with Jackson Pollack. Durham had a shy at it with Rothko – wasn’t he Ron Moody’s character in “Into the Labyrinth? – and Edinburgh a speculative long ball with Lichtenstein. Well done to Ewan Smith for knowing the two towns of Flint, though. Singapore provided a very good full house of bonuses. Again, both teams sat on the buzzer a bit for the next starter. Travelled to England in 1849 after abdicating the French throne . . . can only be Louis Phillipe, but it was another second or two before the impressive Euan Smith, having a real purple patch of buzzing at this point, came in with the right answer. Bonuses on John Locke – didn’t he bowl for Surrey? – sorry, I’ll stop that now – didn’t provide much, but did take Edinburgh into double figures. Thanks to Sporcle I said Actinides for the next starter just before Cressida O’Connor buzzed in with the same correct answer. Mrs. L. was currently engaged in the manoeuvre we call makinacuppa, so this time I did get my lap of honour. I knew nothing about T cells, so failed to follow it up, though Durham took 2. Nat Guillou buzzed in at exactly the point where the next starter became obvious – partitioned three times in the 19th century has to be Poland. Good buzz. Back in the lead, descriptions of warriors from the Iliad gave them another 5 points. So the score at the 20 minute mark was 110 – 100 in Durham’s favour. Good game.

Euan Smith hit back immediately, recognising a reference to Alexander the Great. Tectonic plates did nothing for me, but provided Edinburgh with 10 points. In the second picture starter we saw an engraving by Durer. It was that man Smith who recognised it. Three more personifications of death brought 10 points. Nobody knew Kraits for the next starter. Owen Stenner-Matthews, having a good night on the buzzer, recognised a work by Steven Pinker – also known as Steven Who? in LAM Towers. Various people called Lamb followed – sadly Larry of that ilk’s work in Gavin and Stacey remained unreferenced. At last we got a Maths starter – and I GOT IT RIGHT AND I WASN’T GUESSING! I worked out that the sum of the 5th prime number – 11 and the 5th digit of p is 20. Nobody had it. The next starter was an old quiz chestnut about Australia. South Australia touches more states than any other. Neither team knew it. Back to the Science starter about hormones. Asked about a gland which had something to do with endocrines I had a strong feeling that it would be pituitary – the so called conductor of the endocrine orchestra. Cressida O’Connor thought the same thing, and JP confirmed we were both right. Malay words in English saw us both get kapok and gecko but miss out on rambutan. All square. Emily Goddard knew that you hear ‘patterns’ and ‘19th century designer’ you say William Morris. Royal memorials gave a timely full house. Nobody fancied a go at OAS, and a despairing Nat Guillou offered “Organisation of American States “ in a tone which said, surely this can’t be right? It was. US History offered three gettable bonuses. They only managed 2, and if they were going to lose, then it was this slight profligacy with bonuses which would be the main reason. Sadly Owen Stenner-Matthews just buzzed in too early to identify the Washington Monument for the next starter. This allowed Euan Smith in, and Swiss food and drink allowed them to bag another full house. After a titanic contest Edinburgh now had daylight – not a lot, but one suspected enough at this late stage. Indeed it ws. The gong announced that they had won by 190 to 155. JP was sure that Durham would be back, and so am I. Well played both – a great match, which I thoroughly enjoyed. As for Mrs. L’s verdict? Is it over? (dramatic pause) Good.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP does like the opportunity to show off his superior knowledge, and give him a sniff of one he’ll be on it like a Jack Russell after a rat in a hay barn. When Euan Smith suggested Mamba for the snake bonus he sniffed,
“No, they’re in sub-Saharan Africa.”

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

The word vandalism was originally coined during the French Revolution by Henri Gregoire.


Jack said...

A very good match indeed between two very good teams, which could have gone either way until that starter at the end. Durham actually got one more starter than Edinburgh, but their bonus rate was 13 out of 30, compared to Edinburgh's 20/27, which shows that, as you suspected, the bonuses were what won the game. But I strongly suspect Durham's score will be enough for the play-offs, which would be totally deserved.

Monday's match pits Wolfson of Cambridge against SOAS of London; week after, we have Queen's of Belfast vs Birmingham.

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