Tuesday, 1 August 2017

University Challenge - Round One - Heat Three

Southampton v. Cardiff

In this third round Southampton were represented by Juan Paolo Ledesma, Andrew Knighton, Niall Jones, and captain Lorna Frankel. Their opponents, Cardiff University were Freddie Colleran, Daniel Conway (Who, I believe, is this year’s second contestant from the centre of the universe – Chiswick), Rosie Cowell and skipper Ian Strachan. Let us begin.

Both teams rather sat on their buzzers for the first starter, and eventually it was Niall Jones of Southampton who claimed first blood for recognising definitions of the word diet. In fairly short order Southampton converted this to a full house with bonuses on Sinbad the sailor. Again, both sides sensibly sat back on the next starter until it became obvious the slang to which JP was referring was Polari, as claimed by Lorna Frankel. A second consecutive full house on citizenship continued Southampton’s impressive start. An impressive early buzz from Juan Pablo Ledesma saw him identify the word syndrome taking Southampton to 9 consecutive correct answers. However events of 1867 brought the run to an end at 10. Never mind, they had a lead of 55 already. Asked which in field athletics event Yuri Sedykh set a world record Ian Strachan did what he had to do for Cardiff by throwing caution to the wind and having a punt with discus. It might have been right, in which case it would have robbed Southampton of a little momentum. As it was, it lost 5. Almost inevitably Juan Pablo Ledesma’s guess of hammer proved right. City planning bonuses brought Southampton a third full house out of 4 visits to the table, and they were looking mightily impressive, as much for their breadth of knowledge as for their buzzer speed. The picture starter showed a map of the USA with the border between two states erased. Juan Pablo Ledesma buzzed in to identify the missing border between Mississippi and Alabama. Impressive – and it brought Southampton a 3 figure lead even before the 10 minute mark. 3 more maps with borders between countries erased saw another full house. To put things into perspective, up to the end of the picture round, right on the cusp of the end of the first 10 minutes of the show, 20 questions had been asked, of which Southampton had correctly answered 18. That’s the most impressive start I can remember for a very long time. They led 115 to minus 5.

Niall Jones refused to show Cardiff any mercy, correctly answering that Kyrgyzstan had staged the first two world nomad games. Helen of Troy in stage works brought another full house. When you hear “Along with the White Devil. . . “ you have to go for your buzzer and answer “The Duchess of Malfi” which is exactly what English student Niall Jones did for the next starter. Scientific terms beginning with ‘homeo’ slowed the Southampton juggernaut somewhat, as they only took the one. The old chestnut about Brownian motion gave me the pretext for a lap of honour around the living room, and Andrew Knighton a correct buzz. 20th century psychologists gave none of us very much, although I did know Piaget. Nobody knew the economist Simon Kuznets, which meant we were almost halfway through the show and this was the first starter that Southampton had failed to answer. Niall Jones showed a nifty buzzer finger to identify Julian of Norwich for the next starter, bringing up a set of bonuses on Chopin. Southapton’s fabulous form on the bonuses seemed to have dried up a little by this time, as again a set went begging. The agony continued for Cardiff though, as Juan Pablo Ledesma identified the warblings of Katy Perry for the music starter. More examples of the millennial whoop – gesundheit – brought both a full house, and a score of 200 for Southampton. As if things weren’t bad enough for Cardiff, JP gave them the kiss of death by telling them there was still plenty of time to get going at this point. Nobody knew that Bridget Riley was heavily involved with Op Art, and so this allowed Daniel Conway (from Chiswick) to identify the word matrix. Bonuses on Dories Day promised them but little, and delivered nothing, but at least they had a positive score now. They looked to be on a roll as Rosie Cowell identified the word March as following Long and Salt. Estates with landscapes designed by Lancelot Capability Brown brought their first correct bonus answer. At just before the 20 minute mark the score stood at 200 – 20. 

Ian Strachan couldn’t repeat Cardiff’s recent successes with the next starter, incorrectly answering, leaving Niall Jones to identify Stamford Raffles as the founder of Singapore. Didn’t matter. The contest was over, and had been for some time, and the only questions that really remained were whether Cardiff could get to 100, and Southampton could get to 300. The latter looked at this stage a lot more likely than the former. Bonuses on the skeleton made this look even more likely as a full house was taken. Shown a geodesic dome for the next picture starter, Ian Strachan correctly recognised the work of Buckminster Fuller. Two other remnants of world fairs took Cardiff to 40. Niall Jones came in far too quickly for the next starter on GBS and lost 5, but Cardiff could not capitalise through not knowing the term bardolatry. Nobody knew a series of Haydn symphonies linked by Paris. Neither did anyone know of the use of the word Guillotine in Carlyle’s History fo the Revolution. Niall Jones knew that Reagan was president at the times of the deaths of Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko (is the name Reagan by any chance Russian for ‘jinx’?) and thus earned bonuses on more US presidents. These only earned another 5, and the 300 mark seemed to be receding towards the event horizon away from Southampton. Nobody knew the term validity in logic. Juan Pablo Ledesma won the buzzer race to identify Whooper, Bewick and Mute as swans. Astronomy, and star classification yielded nothing to any of us. For these last few starters it seemed like each was an example of low lying fruit, easy for Southampton to pick up, but the bonuses seemed to have dried up. Sparkling wine saw them take just 1 of a very gettable set. A second lap of honour resulted from me knowing that the flavour of quark with the shortest name is up. Andrew Knighton also had that one. Bonuses on the Nobel Peace Prize saw them take the first two before the gong denied them of the chance of a full house. Final score – 280 – 40.

Well, what can I say? Granted, Southampton were generally much faster on the buzzer, and there isn’t a great deal you can do about that. However, what we did see of Cardiff suggested that even if you took the buzzer out of the equation, judging by the answers both teams provided, Southampton were considerably stronger. That’s just my opinion, feel free to disagree. As for Southampton, well they buzz well, and have a wide range of knowledge throughout the team. One to watch, I fancy.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Seemingly despite himself JP couldn’t help acknowledging the superb form of Southampton in the first 10 minutes with a ‘well done’.

It had to happen. I was laying mental bets with myself about just how early JP was going to tell Cardiff that there was still plenty of time to get going. If you’re going to say it at all Jez, then waiting until the score is 200 to minus 5 is possibly a little late. Then, moments later when Daniel Conway (from Chiswick) scored Cardiff’s points, JP looked on disapprovingly as he earned a fistbump from the Cardiff skipper, and told them to get on with it. That’s more like it.

He was rather gracious at the end, though, saying that Cardiff never got a chance to show us what they can do – a commendably charitable interpretation of what happened.

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

George Bernard Shaw first coined the term ‘bardolatry’


Jack said...

Yeah, Cardiff unfortunately never got a chance really, but they came across well when they did get to play nonetheless, and must be a decent enough team to make it onto the show in the first place. As for Southampton, an excellent all round performance, which marks them out as one to watch later in the series, but we may have to see how they perform in the second round against a known quantity before we mark them properly as one to watch.

Londinius said...

Wise words, Jack. My gut feeling is that they were buzzing pretty quickly, and for much of the show did show a useful breadth of knowledge. But as we know, first round form is at best an unreliable guide.

Captain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Captain said...

It was a most impressive display from Southampton. The team was a team but superbly boosted by Juan Paolo's impressive knowledge. I must also comment on his superb relaxed style. I loved the way he joked, he lounged and he generally made himself at home on the University Challenge set. If he needs a manager for future performances, I am available. Well done all.

Londinius said...

Hi Captain - glad to have you aboard.