Wednesday, 16 August 2017

University Challenge - Round One - Heat 4 - St. Edmund's, Cambridge v. Magdalen, Oxford

Yes folks, it’s another Oxford v. Cambridge duel, with St. Edmund’s taking on 4 time champions Magdalen. St. Edmund’s were represented by Zou Tang-Shen, Alex Knight Williams from Putney (close to Chiswick but no cigar), Ryan Blank and captain Sahaid Motala. Magdalen’s team were Winston Wright, Christopher Stern, Sarah Parkin and skipper Johnny Gibson.

Now, when the first starter mentioned a river, with a huge length and a Portuguese sounding name, I thought exactly the same as Zou Tang-Shen, that we were dealing with the Amazon. We were both correct and this brought up a set of bonuses on educational philosophy. As did St. Edmund’s, I had the first and last, but I should have done better with Rudolf Steiner. Now, when the words “Sometimes described as the most famous Kurd in History. . . “ had come from JP’s mouth I immediately leapt in with ‘Saladin’, but both teams waited until the reconquering of Jerusalem was mentioned, at which point Johnny Gibson leapt in. This earned bonuses on sleep in Shakespeare. I had the first two, but missed out on Othello for the last. The Magdalen skipper took a double by recognising a description of Karl Popper – ‘Party’ as his mates called him, I believe. Physics in the 1970s promised me but little, yet Dennis Gabor and holography saw a early outing for the ceremonial lap of honour around the sofa. A great buzz from Alex Knight Williams saw him identify the Mosque of Djenne as being a world heritage site in Mali. Greek Mythological fathers and sons brought both of us two bonuses. Winston Wright came in too early on the next starter, dropping five points, and this allowed Alex Knight Williams to take his own double, knowing that IFF stands for If and Only If. Fair enough. Classical music and birdsong provided two bonuses, one more than I managed. Schoolboy French helped me answer the picture starter, which showed a quotation to the effect of – If God did not exist then it would be necessary for Man to invent him – and I knew this was one of Voltaire’s one-liners. Sarah Parkin knew that one, and more of the same for the bonuses brought Magdalen both of us two more correct answers. This meant that the score at just after the ten minute mark was a pleasingly symmetrical 60 – 60.

Sahaid Motala came in too early for the next starter, allowing Christopher Stern to identify tau as the Greek letter standing for various bits and pieces in Science. Questions on Mayfair brought me a full house, and Magdalen were unlucky to only manage the two. Various Fulks were given for the next starter, and after both teams sat on their buzzers a little it was Ryan Blank who answered that they were Counts of Anjou. When JP said the bonuses were on stereoiosmers I replied gesundheit, and then supplied not another word until St. Edmund’s had added a pair of bonuses to their score. Fair play to Zou Tang-Shen – JP did not quite hear his answer to the last bonus, and he sportingly admitted that he had given a wrong un. I didn’t begin to understand the next question, but Christopher Stern knew that it related to nuclear fission reactors. Spanish cities and their patron saints gave a single bonus, and took us to the music starter. I recognised the theme of “Out of Africa”, and knew it was composed by John “Mr. Bond Theme” Barry. Nobody else did. Both Johnny Gibson and I knew that the first president to impeached was Andrew Johnson. This brought Magdalen the rollover music bonuses, and composers who have been nominated for both an Oscar AND a Golden Raspberry. They recognised the work of Jerry Goldsmith, which I missed, but I did have Giorgio Moroder. Hey, I grew up in the 70s, be fair. There was a terrific twist on the next question. ‘My brother is an aficionado of oolong tea – give the dictionary spelling of the word – “ and at this point Johnny Gibson buzzed in with “o-o-l-o-n-g.” JP docked him 5 points, and continued “ give the dictionary spelling of the word aficionado – at which there was much laughter. Which grew even more when St. Edmund’s tried to spell it with a double f. As a punchline JP added. Oolong – you were quite right. It’s the way he tells them. None of us knew the term mercerisation for the next starter, but there was a bit of a buzzer race for the next starter, won by Zou Tang-Shen who recognised that a group of given countries were all bordered by countries beginning with the letter I. Bonuses on music did nowt for me nor for St. Edmund’s for that matter. This meant that Magdalen led by 105 – 85 on the cusp of the 20 minute mark. Still very close, although you did sense by this stage that Magdalen looked to have the edge on their opponents. 

“The Lady Of Shalott” made it’s officially umpteenth appearance in a UC question for the next starter, and this was swooped upon by Johnny Gibson. British armies in India brought one correct answer, but they were in the lead, and putting daylight between themselves and St. Edmund’s. Now, if you’re shown a picture of a blue and white vase and asked which Chinese dynasty it belongs to, if in doubt always answer Ming. That’s what Ryan Blank did for the next picture starter, and it worked. 3 more Chinese artifacts followed, of which they managed the same 2 that I did. This narrowed the gap to 15, and there was still little to choose between Oxford and Cambridge in this contest. Both teams really sat on their buzzers for the next one – lucky shot and parasitic flatworm should have been enough – as it was there was time for the whole question to be asked and a pause before Zou Tang-Shen gave the correct answer of fluke. Lead down to 5 points. Inevitably St. Edmunds took 1 of the chemistry bonuses to give us a tied game. Squeaky bum time. Neither team could come up with the term sidereal year for the next starter. Neither team managed the next starter on Devon either. Finally Magdalen’s indefatigable captain stopped the rot, telling us that Maine is the most sparsely populated US state east of the Mississippi. Italian neorealist cinema saw a brilliant full house, which not only gave Magdalen a 25 point lead, but which also must have taken at least a bit of the wind out of St. Edmund’s collective sails. Zou Tang-Shen did what was probably the right thing to do at this stage of the game, and came in early with a plausible answer to the next question about a formula of a substance used in old school non digital photography, but sadly lost 5, allowing Magdalen the actual formula of AgBr. Well, I’m sorry but even I know that’s silver bromide, as did Christopher Stern. Human physiology provided points which gave them a lead of 55, and with very little time remaining you could have named your own price on St. Edmund’s. I doubt there would have been many takers after Johnny Gibson identified the work of Giotto in the next starter. Russia and the United States saw Magdalen take another ten points but this was almost irrelevant. There wasn’t time for the whole of the next starter, although sadly there was enough of it for Zou Tang-Shen take a good stab with a flying interruption, losing 5. 

So Magdelen won by 185 to 105. Looks like a comfortable win, going by the score line, doesn’t it? Yet it really wasn’t – until the last 4 minutes it really was anyone’s game. This, I’m sure is scant consolation to St. Edmund’s, but I am sure they would admit that in the final analysis Magdalen had just that little bit more , and were worth the win, even if the margin of victory was a little flattering.

Well played both – a good and enjoyable contest. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I think we have to admit it – our JP has mellowed (translation – gone soft). For example, when St. Edmund’s only offered Beethoven, all he did was ask – which – and even the ‘come on’ which followed seemed to lack conviction. 10 years ago our man would have unleashed a blast of withering scorn at this point.

There was just one nice bit of sarcasm, when, having failed to answer the music starter, JP greeted their answer to earn the rollover bonuses with “Lucky old you, Magdalen, you’ve got the music bonuses. . . “

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

Maine is the most sparsely populated state to the east of the Mississippi


dxdtdemon said...

I agree with you on the fact you didn't already know. I would've said Mississippi, and I'm American.

Jack said...

Unlucky for St Edmund's, a perfectly decent team who just fell away at the end, I suspect, like Trinity a few weeks back, they could have beaten another team. A fine performance from Magdalen though, certainly a team who could have a good run this series with a favourable draw.