Saturday, 25 March 2017

University Challenge - Sudden Death Quarter Final - Corpus Christi v. Balliol

Corpus Christi, Oxford v. Balliol, Oxford

Yes, dearly beloved, we have reached the last of the quarter final matches, the last round of drinks in the last chance saloon if you like. Tom Fleet, Emma Johnson, Adam Wright and skipper Nikhil Venkatesh had impressed for Corpus Christi throughout all of their matches until their second QF, where they were outbuzzed by Emmanuel. Opponents Balliol, represented by Freddy Potts, Jacob Lloyd, Ben Pope and captain Joey Goldman were beaten by last week’s qualifiers Wolfson in their first QF, but slaughtered Birmingham in their sudden death match. Who would win this one? Well, it’s been an unpredictable series, with a good half a dozen strong teams in the quarters, and as we all know 6 into 4 doesn’t go. Something’s gotta give. We’d soon find out just who.

If you’re asked for a King of Bavaria, Ludwig is always going to be a decent shout. It worked out that way for both me and Joey Goldman on the first starter. Chatham House earned them one bonus – the only one I knew was that Pitt the Elder was given the title of the Earl of Chatham. Respect for Jacob Lloyd for ascribing the Shakespeare quote about imagining death by drowning to Richard III – wouldn’t have been my first – or second, or third – choice, that one. Bonuses on squandering saw Balliol take their first full house, and these were by no means all easy either. The term Eutrophic gave Balliol their third successive starter and Ben Pope his first. Pairs of Scientific terms differing by only one letter were a good old UC special set, and Balliol took two. According to Harold Macmllan no sensible man challenges The Brigade of Guards – and two other bodies. I guessed the Church – it turned out to be the Catholic church,  and the other was the National Union of Mineworkers. Neither team had that one. The next was a real UC special. Concatenate the regnal numbers of all the monarchs of the UK since Victoria and the resulting 5 digit number is closest to the area of which country of the UK? It was crying out for a contestant to hit the buzzer and hope, and Joey Goldman was rewarded for bravery when his guess of Scotland turned out to be correct. Questions on Mary of Guise brought 2 more correct answers to Balliol, and my first full house of the night. A flag picture starter! I love a flag picture starter, and knew straightaway that this was Greenland’s. So did Adam Wright, who put Corpus Christi’s score into the black, and earned bonuses on flags of indigenous peoples that have co official status. The only one I knew was the Aboriginal flag from Australia, but Corpus managed two of them. Nikhil Venkatesh won the buzzer race to answer Marie Stopes for the next starter, and they correctly answered two of a set on panopticons. Incidentally this set disgracefully ignored the fact that the Panopticon is probably the most important building on Gallifrey, the Doctor’s home planet. So this rally meant that the score just after the 10 minute mark was 80 – 35 to Balliol.

Right, the next question asked for shared values of something or other, and I did what I always do when asked for a value I haven’t got a clue about. I answered 0. Not for the first time, it was right. Ben Pope had that one as well. Mesons, leptons, muons and the like gave me nowt for the bonuses, but Balliol lapped them up like cream, gaining a full house. Emma Johnson buzzed early to supply the words mediate and meditate for the next starter. This gave Corpus a set on South Korean cinema. Respect to the whole team for not one of them saying “What the . . . “ Despite never having knowingly watched a South Korean movie, I took a full house, and Corpus took two bonuses of their own. Really and truly these were GK questions – and nowt wrong with that either. Freddy Potts knew the Gini index. Pun overload warning. A fantastic UC special set followed on sets of books in which the shorter title was also the beginning of the longer title, eg Cormac McCarthy and George Orwell giving us The Road – To Wigan Pier. Alright, it was easy to get a full house on these which Balliol duly did, but that wasn’t the point. These were fun, and kudos to the setter. Adam Wright recognised candidates for the southernmost of the Pillars of Hercules, and earned Corpus a set on South America. They took a couple, but at this stage they really needed full houses to start closing that gap on Balliol. Now, I have a tactic for answering who composed American operas for the music starter. If it sounds like music I say Copland. If it doesn’t, I say Glass. This time I went for Glass, as did Joey Goldman and we were both correct. Bonuses on other composers who had day jobs only provided any of us with one, the old chestnut Borodin who was a chemist, although presumably not as in Boots the. Emma Johnson buzzed in with the next starter with the answer of Blastocyst. Gesundheit, I thought, but it was right, anyway. Rapidly orbiting moons, being about my only area of any scientific knowledge – astronomy – promised my best chance of a lap of honour in this show. I actually had two, which meant the lap of honour followed by the Mexican Wave. It was the same two that Corpus managed. The first and greatest masterpiece of modern art could only be Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon, but it took a while before Joey Goldman buzzed in, earning bonuses on writer’s block. The two that Balliol managed meant that the score was 160 – 95 in their favour on the cusp of the 20 minute mark. Game over? No not yet, but it would need an almighty effort from Corpus Christi.

Emma Johnson knew Force Majeure, and obscurely named administrative districts of England gave one bonus which reduced the gap to 50. Now, for the second picture starter I immediately recognised the original costume design for L’Apres Midi d’Un Faun, since exactly the same picture is in the Chronicle of the 20th Century. Emma Johnson, a star player for Corpus at this stage of the game, knew it too. More original designs for ballets failed to add to their score. Joey Goldman stretched the lead back out, knowing the sign for a glottal stop. I gave myself a small round of applause for knowing that atropine comes from deadly nightshade for the first of a set of bonuses – alright, I only had one on this set, but it was one more than Balliol managed. I didn’t know that Clara Wieck married Schumann, but Jacob Lloyd did. Postwar works on the shortlist of academic books that changed the world offered me but little and indeed delivered me nothing, while Balliol had a full house. Don’t care – I knew atropine. I loved the next starter – three European capital cities gave their names to elements of the periodic table – name two. Paris – Lutetium, Stockholm – Holmium, Copenhagen – Hafnium – I answered. Some time later once again it was the Balliol skipper who had the guts to buzz in, and bravery was rewarded as he gave the 2 Scandinavian capitals. This took them through the 200 points barrier, and the Danish Colonial Empire brought them to 215 and a 95 point lead. With the clock running down, Balliol were now as good as through. I think that Ben Pope probably knew that the closest national capital to Vienna is Bratislava, and he supplied its first three letters for the next starter. Here’s one of those annoying things. If you go to a pub quiz, and the question master asks which two European capital cities lie closest together, if you answer – Rome and the Vatican – you will be told you are being silly. If you answer Bratislava and Vienna you will be told it’s Rome and the Vatican. Anyway, this brought bonuses on the name Angel. A lovely set, Balliol were never going to pass up a full house on these. Fair play to Nikhil Venkatesh, the Corpus skipper must have known that they were out, but he still buzzed in with the Paradox of Hedonism for the next starter. Again, this brought up a great UC special set. Given words which appeared alongside their dictionary definition, the team had to identify capital cities – for example – airlift and wall give Berlin. Great set, and Corpus took a full house. Adam Wright knew the newly discovered moon Nix of Pluto. Sadly there was only time for one correct bonus on English and Sanskrit. At the gong, Balliol had won by 160 – 240.

I’m sure that it’s scant consolation, Corpus Christi, but there’s absolutely no shame in reaching the quarters of such a competitive series of UC – in other years I fancy you would have been semi-finalists. Many congratulations to Balliol, an impressive performance against a very good team. Best of luck in your semi.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

On the Henry VIII question about Mary of Guise, JP observed “He was a real charmer, wasn’t he?” Dare I say it, takes one to know one?

Oh, Jez, you do like your little joke don’t you? Pronouncing glottal stop as glo’al stop – a little obvious, don’t you think, though?

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

Greenland’s flag is called “Erfalasorput” which translates as ‘Our Flag’ – love it, does exactly what it says on the tin.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Another fine high quality match, with both teams performing very well on the buzzer and the bonuses, Corpus Christi managing 15/26 and Balliol 24/26. Nothing for Corpus Christi to be ashamed of; they'd certainly have been in contention for the title last series, as would a lot of the teams this series. Balliol should certainly be taken seriously now, having done well to recover from that slip-up against Wolfson.

So, the semi-final line-up: next week, Edinburgh vs Balliol, but on Monday, the match everyone's been waiting for, Emmanuel vs Wolfson, or as most on Twitter are billing it, Seagull vs Monkman! Hopefully the series will finish strongly; good luck again to all four teams!