Saturday, 7 October 2017

University Challenge - Round One - Heat 11 - Emmanuel. Cambridge - St. Hugh's, Oxford

Emmanuel, Cambridge v. St. Hugh’s, Oxford

I’ve been looking forward to this match. Cambridge v. Oxford matches are usually worth watching. That’s not the only reason though. Emmanuel Cambridge have a habit of putting memorable teams into the competition – just think of Bobby and the guys last year, and then Alex G., Jenny H. and co who were series champions in 2010. Having to live up to that pedigree were Ed Derby, Kitty Chevallier, James Fraser and their captain Alex Mistlin. Determined to show that they deserved more than just opponent status were St. Hugh’s team of Kazi Elias, Ewan Grainger, Aiden Mehigan and their own captain Daniel De Wijze.

Ewan Grainger was right on the money with his first buzz in thinking that a 2016 book titled “Hello, Is this Planet Earth?” would be an astronaut’s memoirs. Sadly, though, he plumped for the wrong one, allowing James Fraser to supply the correct answer of ‘Major Tim’ Peake. Bonuses on the films of Quentin Tarantino brought them another 10 points. I more or less guarantee that if you asked a question starting with the words ‘Concrete cows’ to a room of 40 and 50 somethings there would be an almighty scamble for the buzzer to answer Milton Keynes. As it was, though, both teams rather sat on their buzzers, and took all the clues, until Daniel De Wijze chanced his arm. This earned bonuses on European Geodraphy, specifically places with Trans – in their names. Their 2 bonuses narrowed the gap to 5. Krait and taipan are fairly staple quiz chestnuts, and Ewan Grainger identified them as snakes. Bonuses on physics saw an early lap of honour opportunity as I knew Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. I forbore, though, bearing in mind I didn’t even understand the next two questions. Let alone the answers. St. Hugh’s took a deserved full house, and the lead. Black Panthers and Black Prince both pointed to the linking word black for the next starter, and Aiden Mehigan was not going to turn his nose up at that. When JP announced that the bonuses would be about works of literature that take their titles from quotations from earlier works of literature I correctly predicted Tender is the Night, but not the other two. I thought they might use Golding’s ‘Darkness Visible’ and Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mirror Crack’d’ instead. St. Hugh’s only managed the one of these. Respect to James Fraser. On the picture starter he very quickly recognised the first page of the sheet music of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. I would only have recognised it had it had the words ‘Beethoven’ and ‘Fifth’ on the top, which sadly it lacked. The first bonus, having the words La Primavera on the top was a lot easier – Primavera means Spring – hence Vivaldi Four Seasons, next please. Nothing so helpful for me in the 2nd and third. Emma still managed the second, but not the third. A quote from chess god Lasker about the rules of Go brought Ed Derby his first starter. A really tricky set on 19th century history yielded no bonuses, and so this meant that just after the ten minute mark the scores stood at 55 – 50 to St. Hugh’s. All the signs were that we were going to have another good contest. 

Kitty Chevallier won the buzzer race to say that the play within a play in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, or as we referred to it in the 1981 Elthorne High School production, pyramid and frisbee. James Muirden’s Rhyming History of Britain gave a set of bonuses that weren’t easy, but were just about gettable. Sadly they missed out again. Both teams showed commendable nerve not jumping in with the next starter, and once it became obvious that the answer was the River Indus, Alex Mistlin won the buzzer race. Animals whose common name begins with hy yielded two more bonuses. The next starter was a good old quiz chestnut. When you hear words to the effect of – Thought to be a corruption of Acadian – then slam the buzzer through the desk because the answer is Cajun. Which is exactly what Aiden Mehigan did. The St. Hugh’s team are all younger gents, so they can be forgiven for not being familiar with the works of the brilliant Dennis Potter. This whole set passed them by. So to the music starter. Aiden Mehigan did exactly what I always do when I’m asked for a German composer and I don’t recognise the music – and answered Beethoven. This time, not correct. Nobody could see Schumann’s Ghost Variations. It was well worth waiting to hear the whole of the next question. It sounded like a chemical/biological thing, then suddenly asked us about compounds which are used in fruit preservatives. Pectin! I shouted. Kitty Chevallier buzzed in with the same answer, and we were both right. A composer chain, of composers whose works were dedicated to another composer gave me just the one, but Emma a terrific full house, taking them into triple figures. An 1802 sonnet written to Wordsworth was just too early to give Aiden Mehigan a shout with Shelley, which left the impressive James Fraser to supply the percentage (and correct) answer of Coleridge. Rainbows gave Emma a second consecutive full house. Aiden Mehigan, who at this stage was doing what he you must do – buzzing any time you think you MIGHT know the answer, correctly gave us the title of Ginsberg’s poem ‘Kaddish’. There’s a photo of Ginsberg as a young, clean shaven man, sometimes used in picture quizzes, and I always think he looks like Jeff Goldblum, but I digress. 2 correct answers on lunar exploration were timely, since Emma had been stretching the lead to ominous proportions. As it was, approaching the 20 minute mark Emmanuel led by 130 – 80. 

James Fraser knew the president of Colombia before we even got to his surname. Good buzzing. Henpecked husbands yielded only 1 bonus from a pretty gettable set, I would have thought. I recognised Canaletto’s painting of the original Westminster Bridge for the picture starter, as did Aiden Mehigan. Now, you know I have a thing about bridges, especially Thames bridges, so when JP announced we were having three more paintings of Westminster Bridge I knew we’d have the Whistler and the Monet. Thankfully, though I didn’t previously know the Turner, I recognised it for a full house. Much more importantly, St. Hugh’s also took a good full house to keep the match very much alive. James Fraser kept Emma ticking over, though, knowing or guessing that there are 4 planets in the solar system which have hydrogen and helium as the two most common gases in their respective atmospheres. Two Geography bonuses followed. Aiden Mehgian was the first in to recognise various boundaries of the state of Texas. 2 bonuses on Sorrow in the Bible kept the score moving. The indefatigable Aiden Mehigan took his second consecutive bonus, knowing the ratio of the volume of a cylinder to the volume of a cone of a given height and base radius is 3:1. Sadly they failed to take any bonuses on local administrative units. Ewan Grainger knew that Griznakh and his muckers were all orcs. Bonuses on books on post war Britain brought them to within 10 points of Emmanuel. Which was cut by five when Alex Mistlin, like me, remembered The Crucible, but not the name of the character required – again, just like me. St. Hugh’s could not capitalise. Nobody knew various terms that can be applied to the process of Evolution. Nobody knew that the only US President to have taken out a patent was Abraham Lincoln. Why have I never been asked a great question like that in a quiz before? (Note to self – next quiz for the rugby club). Now, if someone was going to come in with a vital early buzz and win the match for his team, the Man Most Likely was always going to be either James Fraser or Aiden Mehigan. This time it was James Fraser who knew the gyrus in the brain. However, they couldn’t answer any of the bonuses on Africa, and were still vulnerable. But no, the buzzer went before JP completed a question about Tennyson. 

Congratulations to Emmanuel, who had won by 170 to 155. That's a good performance considering that this was a very competitive match. But as for St. Hugh’s,  JP would only say that they may well come back. To that extent he is right. With three games left in the first round, only Ulster, with 160, are so far guaranteed a place in the repechage round. It would need all three losing teams in the last three matches to score more than 155, though, for St. Hugh’s not to make it. I think they deserve it. 

Thanks to both teams for a great match. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Respect to JP for giving us something approaching the correct pronunciation of the rainbow bridge – Bifrost. I believe that it really IS supposed to be pronounced closer to Beef Roast – than By Frost. 

I must admit I thought Jez was very dismissive of Aiden Mehigan’s answer of Canaletto on the second picture starter. “Yeah – very easy , wasn’t it?” I mean, look, Canaletto is pretty unmistakeable, but fair play, even if a question might be a bit easier you still have to win the buzzer race. Chwarae teg, mun. 

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

The only US President to have taken out a patent is Abraham Lincoln


Jack said...

Excellent match between two very closely matched teams that was ultimately decided by a single starter, Emmanuel converting 15/30 bonuses and St Hugh's 15/27. Both deserve to come back, and unless we see something remarkable in the remaining matches, I would say St Hugh's most definitely will.

On the subject of Emmanuel Dave, I wonder if you saw Messrs Seagull and Guttenplan's recent appearance with some of their teammates on Eggheads?

On Monday, St Andrews take on St John's of Cambridge; the week after, another Oxbridge derby with Corpus Christi for Cambridge and St Anne's for Oxford.

Londinius said...

Hi Jack - I only caught the end of the Eggheads show. I like and respect all of the Eggheads personally, but I'm not the biggest fa of the show. As regards Emmanuel, Bobby is a regular reader, and an email correspondent of mine, and I met Alex and Jenny in the studios in Culverhouse Cross once filming Only Connect.

I too feel there's a pretty good chance of St. Hugh's getting through. Hope so.

dxdtdemon said...

Aidan Mehigan had been a really good quizbowl player in the US, so if his team is able to go further, it will be interesting to see if his getting used to more British questions will make him the next Kyle Haddad-Fonda.

Londinius said...

Those are big shoes to fill, dxdtdemon!

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