Saturday, 29 July 2017

University Challenge Round One - Heat One

Round One – Heat One - Edinburgh v. Ulster

OK, dearly beloved. As I promised, here’s the review of the first heat of the series.

The first of 28 teams this series to be introduced in the first round were Edinburgh, represented by John Heaton-Armstrong, Stanley Wang, Philippa Stone and their captain, Innis Carson. Their opponents were Ulster, who were Cathal McDaid, Kate Ritchie, Matthew Milliken and their own skipper, Ian Jack. Incidentally, JP announced Ulster as the most senior team in this year’s competition, with an average age of 50. One always thinks that an older team like this should have a built-in advantage, although in practice this does not seem to be the case. Time would tell in this contest.

Both teams rather sat on their buzzers for the first question, which was a list of creatures with largest wingspans for their kind, followed by Howard Hughes Spruce Goose. It was skipper Ian Jack who took first blood for Ulster. 2 bonuses on travel guides seemed a decent return from their first visit to the table. Again, both teams gave ample though to the five letter greek prefix commonly used in relation to the internet before Ian Jack took his second in a row with cyber. A set of bonuses on Shakespearean quotations about fate and destiny were by no means gimmes, but they might have managed two rather than the one they did. Now, with the next question on maths it was well worth waiting, as the details poured on – French scientist – contemporary of Lavoisier – and then the clincher – an equilibrium point in astronomy is named after him. LAGRANGE! – shouted I, and immediately commenced my lap of honour before Stanley Wang buzzed in with the same. 2 bonuses on Britain and Australia were taken – had they had a sports specialist on the team they might have had a full house. The first interruption of the contest came with the next starter as John Heaton-Armstrong recognised a description of Afghanistan. Biochemistry both offered and delivered nothing for me as you might have guessed, but Edinburgh also failed to add to their score. The picture starter showed a map of a famous voyage of the 1830s. All the teams had to do was give the name of either of the most famous members of the expedition. It took a couple of moment’s though before Ian Jack offered Charles Darwin, correctly. They took two bonuses, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t get the first one myself either. This gave Ulster a small lead of 55 – 30 at the 10 minute mark.

I’d say Stanley Wang came in too fast for the Bibblical feast in the next starter. Had he waited and heard ‘occasion of first miracle’ he wouldn’t have offered the Last Supper, and may well have given Ulster’s correct answer of the wedding at Cana.Works supposedly written in prison began with the two old chestnuts – Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, followed by Malory’s Morte D’Arthur – both of which Ulster missed. I proclaimed that Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress would complete the trinity, but I was wrong, as the last was clearly De Profundis by Oscar Wilde, and that was the bonus that Ulster managed to get. Borth John Heaton-Armstrong and I guessed that the Sundarbans relate to the river Ganges. Edinburgh certainly knew their stuff on Geography, taking a full house on states of Mexico. The next starter saw Stanley Wang correctly identify the term parity. Ironically, one bonus on contemporary poets put them just 5 points away from parity with Ulster on the score board. For the music starter we had the second version of the Blackadder theme, and Ian Jack identified it as the work of Howard Goodall. Three more Howard Goodall TV themes brought an easy full house, and stretched the lead to 30 points. Matthew Milliken came in too early for the next starter. Describing a bush named after a long necked long legged bird, he buzzed in with the bird – crane. It fell to Stanley Wang to supply the name of the bush – cranberry. Animals whose common name closely resembles their scientific names – eg Gorilla gorilla – gave them 10 points, which, together with the Ulster penalty brought them back to 5 points behind. Incidentally, there is only one creature whose scientific name is exactly the same as its common English name. No? It’s boa constrictor. Thanks Q.I. A great early buzz from John Heaton-Armstrong identified the Fourier prediction about the seas turning into pink lemonade. Somehow I think he might have been drinking something rather stronger when he came up with that prediction. This gave Edinburgh the lead, which they extended through a fine full house, mainly due to skipper Innis Carson. Thus inspired, Ulster skipper Ian Jack hit back with an early buzz of his own to identify a definition of the term isotonic. Bonuses on US Nobel laureate Jodie Williams (didn’t she have a couple of hits in the late 80s?) brought Ulster a full house and ensured that they had a lead at just past the 20 minute mark, albeit a slim one, at 115 – 110.

A good buzz from John Heaton-Armstrong identified the word sycophant. Bonuses on the Sykes family, which unaccountably didn’t mention Eric, brought a single bonus. So to the second picture starter. Matthew Milliken won the battle to identify Yul Brynner, then comedically ran his hand over his own hairless pate. 3 more actors who won Tonys and Oscars for playing the same role on stage and screen saw them fail to identify Joel Gray – best known of course for being Baby’s real life father from “Dirty Dancing” – misidentify Paul Schofield but get Rex Harrison to take the narrowest of leads again. Edinburgh’s buzzmeister, John Heaton-Armstrong, won the race to identify the German province of East Prussia. One bonus on the films of Martin Scorsese gave them back a lead of 10. Here’s a tip. If you’re asked about a great Victorian novel, and you don’t recognise the names or plot, then your best bet is to say “Middlemarch”. I did, so did Kate Ritchie, and we were both right. Bonuses on words containing the latin word ergo brought ten points, which was the extent of their lead. This had turned into an absorbingly nip and tuck contest, with both teams inflicting body blows like two heavyweights who are into the last 5 rounds, and know that they need to catch the eyes of the judges, because their bout will end in a decision. Now, I’m sorry, but knowing under which King the South Sea Bubble burst is a bit of an old quiz chestnut, and one of the teams should have had it. Almost inevitably it was Edinburgh, in the shape of Innis Carson, who correctly answered Tacchycardia for the next starter. A full house on the highest mountains of continents based on their geographical coordinates left Ulster needing a two bonuses on the next starter and hardly any time to do it. They got th starter to be fair, with Matthew Milliken recognising a quotation in Alice through the Looking Glass about the poem Jabberwocky. That, however was that, as the gong went leaving Ulster trailing by 5 points. The final score was 165 – 160. Congratulations to Edinburgh, but also to Ulster, who have an excellent chance of a repechage slot with that score. Great opening to the series. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

It was during the contemporary poetry bonuses that we had the first ‘come on!’ of the series. First of many, I hope.

As Matthew Milliken made his gesture, and reaped its award of laughter, JP milked the last dregs from that particular bovine, saying, “No-one is saying anything.” 

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

Cranberry takes its name from crane.


Jack said...

Excellent match to start the series; well played by both sides, both of whom deserve to return, and Ulster surely have a very good chance of doing so with that score.

Londinius said...

Yes, very enjoyable. I fancy we'll see Ulster again in the repechage round.