Friday, 17 November 2017

University Challenge 2018 - Round 2 - Heat 1

Strathclyde v. Emmanuel, Cambridge

Strathclyde, represented by Ian Brown, James Flanigan, Paul Dijkman and skipper Alastair Logan, won through to the second round in a tight match against Imperial. Their opponents, Emmanuel Cambridge, represented by Ed Derby, Kitty Chevallier, James Fraser and their captain Alex Mistlin also won a tight contest against St. Hugh’s. My personal feeling was that Emmaneul had looked the stronger of the two teams first time out, but then first round form is notoriously unreliable.

Kitty Chevallier won the buzzer race for the first starter, recognising a couple of definitions of the word scale. Bonuses on agricultural machinery brought a full house which served well as a statement that this Emmanuel team meant business. Alastair Logan came in too early for the next starter – although I don’t blame him for trying to land a counterblow as quickly as possible – allowing Kitty Chevallier to correctly guess that the bivalve mollusc that the question required was a mussel. Ugh, mussels. Love the taste, but ate a bad one in France once and became intimately acquainted with a fetid toilet for hours. Bonuses on the philosopher Hannah Arendt promised me little but delivered another full house to Emmanuel. You can’t do better than 50 points from 2 visits to the table. I liked the next question, since it was one you just had to wait and then go for it. You see, there are actually no fewer than 4 elements named after Ytterby in Sweden, and it wasn’t till the end of the question that it became obvious that it was the first three letters of Terbium that were required. James Fraser took that one. Only one bonus followed on astronomy, but I was glad to take a lap of honour for correctly guessing that a star with an apparent magnitude of 6 seems 100 times bright than a star with an apparent magnitude of 1. Little things please etc. A great buzz from the Emmanuel skipper saw him identify 1914 as the last year in which, according to AJP Taylor, an Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the State. A UC special set on historical figures who shared the first and last letters of their names saw JP rather leniently allow Alex Mistlin to correct the team’s first answer of MarEt to MarAt. On another occasion he would have insisted on taking their first answer. Nonetheless, this gave Emmanuel another full house. Out of the first 16 questions asked, they had correctly answered 14. That’s great quizzing by anyone’s standards. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t work out the first picture starter any more than either of the teams did. They were flags showing the nationalities of Premier League winning managers since 2007/8. Perfectly fair question, perfectly work outable, but I didn’t and neither did either team. As soon as the next question became obvious, requiring the country that hosted the first FIFA world cup final, Alex Mistlin struck mercilessly to provide the correct answer of Uruguay. Incidentally this brought up 100 points before the 10 minute mark. This soon became 115 as the team made short work of the picture bonuses. With poor old Strathclyde languishing back on -5 I feared that it was only a matter of time before JP unleashed the dreaded announcement that they had plenty of time to catch up.

Up stepped Alastair Logan, who knew that if a question mentions ‘Byron’ and ‘Greece might be free’, then you’re never going to lose points answering Byron. This put his team’s.  account into the black, and they added one bonus on the Wirral peninsula. From somewhere I dredged up the idea that a bird’s migratory habits can be changed if you expose it to an increased magnetic field, and Alastair Logan took his second starter in a row with the same answer. Some physics stuff brought me nowt and Strathclyde another correct answer. Alastair Logan couldn’t complete a hattrick on the next starter, which allowed Ed Derby in to tell us that Gauss said number theory is the Queen of Mathematics. Fair enough. Another full house of bonuses on infectious diseases widened their lead again. So to the music starter, and Ed Derby well knew that if you’re asked for a German composer and it doesn’t actually sound like music, then you’ll go a long way by answering with Stockhausen. More composers who suffered bad reviews by Cardew (the cad?) took an awfully long time and brought none of us any points. I don’t think either team ‘got’ that the next question was asking for a given name, as both offered surnames even when it became fairly clear that we were looking for Charles. The indomitable Strathclyde skipper correctly answered that Measure for Measure begins with a song taken from the St. Matthew version of the Sermon on the Mount. A couple of bonuses on Californian cities took their score to 45. That man Logan also knew that the moment you hear the words ‘Council of Clermont’ you give the answer – the First Crusade. A couple of bonuses on calculus meant that for the previous 10 minutes, Strathclyde had actually had the better of the contest. Mind you, that was all relative to Emmanuel’s dominance in the first 10 minutes, since they still led by 145 to 65. 

Ed Derby looked as if he knew the answer anyway when he confidently offered Bertrand Russell for the next starter, but even so he’s always a good shout for an English philosopher. Bonuses on Africa were in short supply. The second picture starter asked us to identify a virginal as the instrument in a Vermeer painting. The bonuses rolled over. Paul Dijkman correctly identified the Parthenon for the next question. Picture bonuses brought nothing to Strathclyde, sadly. I wasn’t that impressed that neither team recognised the description of Lord Melbourne, but then no team knows everything. Neither did either team know that strawberry pips are called achenes. Alastair Logan did know that the Minch and the Little Minch separate the Outer Hebrides and the Western Isles. Questions in poetry delivered no points, and I am surprised that nobody on the team recognised the one from Blake. Ian Brown knew that Turkey was the answer to the next starter, and two bonuses on Kings of Scotland took them to 105, a splendid fightback after a disastrous start. Ed Derby knew the start of Catch 22, though, and Emmanuel managed one bonus on pairs of explorers. Nobody knew that Nessler’s reagent detects the presence of ammonia in water. That was it, and the gong ended the contest.

As I said, a good fightback from Strathclyde, but they were always going to be second best in this contest. As for Emma, well, they did the damage in the first ten minutes, and then somewhat slackened off. They’ll still be a handful for any other team in the quarters though. Well played. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Unlike last week, we saw something worthy of comment. When Kitty Chevallier took a stab in the dark with the Six Nations for the answer to the first picture starter he wrinkled his nose and sniffed, Very odd Six Nations. No!

For some reason as well the great man seemed to wet himself at the suggestion that a hurdy gurdy might actually be called a drone. Weird. 

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

Rwanda and Burundi have the highest population densities in sub Saharan Africa.


Jack said...

Yeah, good fightback effort from Strathclyde, but the damage was done in the first quarter; a fellow blogger has calculated that they'd have won had the match started after the first picture round. That early sprint from Emmanuel was indeed what won them the match, but I agree that they did maybe ease off in the second half. An excellent early bonus rate too of 17/27, with Strathclyde managing 8/21. How well they do in the group stage, though, will probably depend on who they draw when.

On Monday, I believe we have a Cambridge derby between St John's and Corpus Christi, a highly unfortunate draw if that is the case and evidence that the policy of filming second round matches on the same day as the teams' first matches needs some adjusting.

Dan said...

The lovely Kitty Chevallier looked familiar. Turns out she was one of the students who showed us round her sixth form college when we were doing the rounds with our daughter.