Saturday, 21 January 2017

University Challenge: Quarter Final Stage: Match 1 - Wolfson, Cambridge v. Balliol, Oxford

Here we are then, friends, into the quarter final stage. First into the lists were Wolfson, Cambridge, and Balliol, Oxford. Wolfson featured the talents of Justin Yang, Ben Chaudri, Paul Cosgrove and their skipper Eric Monkman, while Balliol gave third appearances to Freddy Potts, Jacob Lloyd, Ben Pope and captain Joey Goldman. The form book pointed to Balliol being slightly more impressive in the first two rounds than Wolfson, however neither of their opponents had been able to make much of an impression on them. Whether this would continue to be the case against Wolfson, who represented a rather more substantial challenge than either of their previous opponents remained to be seen.

Jacob Lloyd came in far too early for the first question, on what was only ever going to be a hit and hope punt from deep. The quotation being given referred specifically to poetry, as Eric Monkman guessed. Wolfson’s first bonuses were on given names, and they managed 2. I knew that Shakespeare died in the 1610s, and Eric Monkman was a tad unlucky to lose five for answering 1600s – I thought that the question had finished when he buzzed as well. Joey Goldman was in for that immediately. Balliol’s bonuses on terms containing the word – Factor – brought them 5 more points. I was really rather surprised when Joey Goldman came in too early and gave a wrong answer to question which, even to a layman such as myself, seemed to beg the answers apogee and perigee. There was no way that Eric Monkman was going to turn his nose up at that windfall. Artistic depictions of Hell provided a rather gentle full house for both of us. I had no idea about the derivation of the word quandary, but Justin Yang was in there very quickly. Parallels which end in a zero were guessable but by no means easy, and Wolfson managed the first two. The first picture starter showed an outline map with a Swiss city highlighted. Freddy Potts correctly identified Basel – good shout, that. More maps showing inland commercial ports brought 10 more points. It couldn’t disguise the fact, though, as we approached the 10 minute mark, that Wolfson had made the better start, leading by 60 to 25.

I think that you could actually see Joey Goldman holding himself back for a moment before buzzing to link “The Mersault Investigation” with Albert Camus’ “L’√Čtranger”. The film director Jane Campion brought another 10 points, and Balliol certainly weren’t wasting any time agonising over their answers. Now, I know bugger all about archea and eukaryote, although I’m reliably informed that they are not Greece’s premier cabaret act, but they were enough to bring Ben Chaudri the next starter. Old Kingdoms stubbornly refused to yield any points. There was mild amusement in LAM Towers when Freddy Potts gave JP the correct answer ‘tit’ to a UC special for the next starter. 2 bonuses on French painters followed. In short order Balliol had reduced the deficit to 5 points. Which soon doubled as Joey Goldman, knowing he was hearing the summary of an American novel, came in with “The Age of Innocence”, when the rest of the question made it clear we were being asked for “The Ambassadors”. Eric Monkman inevitably took that one. Medicine poleaxed all of us, as no further points were scored. This brought us the music starter. Eric Monkman and I both went for Schubert, correctly. Three more pieces inspired by Goethe followed. Neither of us had either of the first two, but Wolfson really should have known that Dukas composed the Sorceror’s Apprentice – from Fantasia if for no other reason. Oh, those costly Balliol interruptions. Jacob Lloyd was the trigger happy buzzer on the next starter, and again, if he’d waited a little longer, it would have been obvious that we were being treated to a quotation by the Duke of Wellington. Erik Monkman, secure in his role of the snapper up of unconsidered trifles took that one as well. Sorrow in Shakespeare yielded only 1 bonus. With kinder sets of bonuses, Wolfson could by now have be approaching the event horizon. Eric Monkman himself was the next to suffer a rush of blood to the head. He came in far too early, giving us the name Schumpeter, which was the name of the economist who wrote them. However that wasn’t what the question wanted. It wanted the word capitalism, which Joey Goldman duly supplied. MacArthurs provided Balliol with a timely full house. Freddy Potts looked as if he’d never heard of the heraldic Yale, but still got it from the Ivy League University and the locksmith. Civil wars brought a second consecutive full house, and amazingly Balliol had edged into the lead. On the cusp of the 20 minute mark they had 105 to Wolfson’s 100.

How was either side going to win this, then? Well, Wolfson needed to improve their conversion rate, while Balliol had to stop shooting themselves in the foot, while at the same time winning the buzzer race on their fair share of starters. Freddy Potts was very unlucky on the next starter. His answer of myths for a specific type of narrative was not close enough to be correct, but probably close enough to help Wolfson, in the shape of Justin Yang, to get the correct answer of fairy tales. Football in the 19th century did not promise to help them improve their conversion rate, and to be fair, it didn’t. So to the picture starter. Joey Goldman recognised the work of Caspar David Friedrich, and more pictures provided another full house. They know their painters these boys. Boccioni? Impressed. Some Science thing I didn’t understand followed. Nobody had it. Joey Goldman just couldn’t resist throwing a little more buzzer at the next question, and losing five points as he offered Theatre of the Absurd, while Theatre of Cruelty was required. Wolfson couldn’t get that one. Now, if you know what Sternuatation is, then you’ll know the one of the 7 dwarves called Sternuens in latin is Sneezy. I just love UC – where else would you get a question about that asked? Eric Monkman won the buzzer race for that one. Chemistry bonuses still only yielded the one. Nobody identified the Gospel of Matthew as the source of a quotation. Eric Monkman was having pretty much his own way with the buzzer race by this time, and was quickly in to identify Pauli as the man behind the Exclusion Principle. After their struggles with bonuses to this point, when JP announced that the next set was on World Heritage sites in China I wouldn’t have blamed them for asking him “You’re havin’ a laugh, aintcher?” He wasn’t. Actually, though they managed two from this set. Poor old Baliol, I’m sure that the succession of penalties had sapped their ability or their will to compete on the buzzer at this stage. It was all too easy for Eric Monkman to process 1798 – writer – sister Cassandra – and come up with the answer Jane Austen before they could buzz. Insect life cycles brought two more bonuses, and a lead of 45. Surely that was the game? Not necessarily. Joey Goldman came in like a lion to take a correct interruption with Jomo Kenyatta. If they could get a full set on place names . . . well, no. There just wasn’t time. The gong went after they had taken their score to 135, 30 points adrift of Wolfson. Hard lines Balliol – but at least they still have another chance. Well played Wolfson.  

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Freddy Potts looked JP straight in the eye. “Tit.” he said. There was a wry look on JP’s face as he sized up his antagonist, and for the briefest of micropauses I did hope he was going to respond with a bad Robert de Niro impression, “You talkin’ to me?” . Sadly not.

We might not get any of the sparkling acid drops of previous years now, but at least we still get the odd wry observation from Jez. Asked for one team which won the football league in the 1890s, Wolfson supplied two. “You were asked for one,” JP replied, lowering his eyes and pausing for comic effect before adding “Well, you didn’t get either.”

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

The word quandary is derived from the latin for when, and a French phrase meaning – shall I say it?.


Jack said...

Agreed about that 1610s interruption; the rule appears to be 'any incorrect buzz while Paxo is still talking, even if he is literally just finishing the question'. I knew they have to draw the line somewhere, but TBH I'd say the rule should be 'any incorrect buzz that results in part of the question not being read out'.

Anyway, this was a very good close match between two fine teams both of whom would be worthy semi-finalists, and I certainly still wouldn't bet against Balliol making it through.

It was a match won by Wolfson on the buzzer: Mr Monkman took eight correct starters, same as Balliol managed altogether, which made up for just 13/33 bonuses, which they'll probably have to improve for next time. Balliol did considerably better on the bonuses, 17/23, but SIX penalties is never a good thing. But, as I say, certainly not out of it yet.

On Monday, then, we should be seeing Bristol vs Corpus Christi. And advanced warning: at the earlier time of 7:30.

Londinius said...

Arguably Balliol lost it on the buzzer just as much as Wolfson won it on the buzzer. Yes, it's always possible the two sides will meet again, in which case it would be very interesting to see what Baliol's buzzer tactics would be this time.

Unknown said...

Another quip from Jeremy to add to "Paxmanwatch": To Balliol: "You lose five points... So you're no longer in the lead!"