Saturday, 19 November 2016

University Challenge: Round Two - Birmingham v. St. Andrews

Birmingham v. St. Andrews

First up in this week’s match were Birmingham, represented by Elliot Jan-Smith, Fraser Sutherland, Chris Rouse and skipper George Greenlees. Their opposition from St. Andrews were Matt Eccleston, James Green, Andrew Vokes, and captain Toby Parker.

George Greenlees understandably thought that the moment you hear the words “American astronomer” you should buzz in with Edwin Hubble, but sadly this one wanted Carl Sagan, allowing James Green to take first blood for St. Andrews. A full set of bonuses on devices gave them the best possible start to the competition. No prizes to James Green for buzzing in too early when he heard the next question mention the Devil’s Dictionary. It’s a fine line to tread between taking a flier, and taking a foolhardy gamble. The question had several definitions from different sources, all pointing to the word habit. Elliot Jan-Smith took that one. Bonuses on events of November 5th in different years only yielded one bonus. Chris Rouse knew the film “The Last Of Us” to take the next starter. A trilogy of bonuses on trilogy saw them add another 5 points. A sciencey thing about a guy called Van der Waals – wasn’t he a detective in Amsterdam? – gave George Greenlees his own first starter, and a bonus on cycling saw them increase their score to twice that of St. Andrews. Their bonus conversion rate at this point, though, was a concern. For the picture starter Elliot Jan-Smith recognised that Sein und Zeit is the original title of Being and Time by Heidegger (who, according to Monty Python was a boozy beggar – that’s Heidegger, mind you, and not Elliot Jan-Smith.) More of the same followed, and almost inevitably they took one. Birgmingham, then, had dominated proceedings up to the 10 minute mark, and yet for all of their seeing superiority the score was only 55-20. Would they regret those missed bonuses later?

Elliot Greenlees recognised definitions of the names of some towns in Somerset. Right – bonuses on cell biology. When I heard the word ‘organelle’ I remembered a question which I commented on years ago, when several correspondents were kind enough to explain to me what a golgi apparatus was. So I gave this answer, and the result was a lap of honour round the Clark sofa. It seemed to galvanise Birmingham as well, since they managed a full set. George Greenlees and I both recognised a definition of the word phalanx at the same time. Another full set on food fish followed. Finally Andrew Vokes stopped the rot for St. Andrews, knowing about the films of Kevin Smith. The American Film Institute’s list of screen legends brought a couple of bonuses, and the fightback had started. Nobody recognised Haydn’s Hungarian Rondo for the music starter. George Greenlees knew about the Summer Triangle, for which they received the deferred music bonuses. One was taken, and I can’t say anything because it was the only one I managed too. James Green knew that Welsh, Cornish and Breton are Brythonic languages, but unfortunately for them they inherited a nasty set of bonuses on cities, and the parallels on which they stand. Fraser Sutherland won the buzzer race to answer a good old hardy perennial about Edouard Manet’s Olympia. A UC special set requiring pairs of words, the last letters of the first being the first letters of the second. These are often quite productive, but only yielded 1. Didn’t matter. At the 20 minute mark Birmingham had an 80 point lead – 135 – 55 – and it looked as if St. Andrews had the Himalayas to climb.

Andrew Vokes ate into the deficit by recognising a painting of Descartes. I think it was Descartes, therefore it was. Three more writers whose works featured on the Vatican’s naughty books list took 15 more points off the lead. George Greenlees knew about major cities of Guangzhou, or Canton. We both picked up the same two bonuses on museums. A very good early buzz from George Greenlees saw him give the Alaskan name of Mount McKinley – Denali. Elections of the 90s brought a bonus, but at this stage what mattered most was that Birmingham were comfortably in front, and running the clock down with every set. Identifying El Cid was just too easy for George Greenlees, and so much were Birmingham enjoying the contest that they snapped out 3 correct biology answers in double quick time. To be fair to James Green he did manage the next starter on Mars, but a really rather difficult set on Shakespeare yielded nothing to any of us. Nobody knew my favourite Ben Jonson play, “The Alchemist” for the next starter. Nobody knew economist Robert Solow either. James Green did know a range of currencies used by Lithuania – the litas was the real giveaway. Bonuses on English and Spanish brought St. Andrews’ score to triple figures. Toby Parker knew that there were mad, bold and victorious king Charleses of France. That was it. The final score was 195 to 115 – a comprehensive victory for Birmingham, who proved far faster on the buzzer.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I have absolutely nothing to say. Neither did he.

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

Deneb, Altair and Vega make up an asterism known as The Summer Triangle.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Yeah, pretty comfortable for Birmingham on the buzzer that, Mr Greenlees again dominating the race with seven starters overall, but nothing for St Andrews to be ashamed of.

In response to Stephen Follows' comment last week about 'poor seeding', there seems to be some kind of planned draw for the first two second round matches. Note how, the past three series, teams from the ninth and tenth first round matches have played in Round 2, and the twelfth and thirteenth likewise. I therefore strongly suspect those second round matches are being filmed on the same day as the two first rounders, thus explaining how two such closely matched teams run into each other so early. I may decide to look at this closer on JOW some time.

On Monday, if I understand Twitter correctly, we'll be seeing Warwick and East London.