Saturday, 9 December 2017

University Challenge Catch Up 1: St. John's, Cambridge v. Corpus Christi, Cambridge

Round 2 Heat 2 – St. John’s Cambridge v. Corpus Christi Cambridge

One of the more impressive teams of the first round, St. John’s were represented by John-Clark Levin, Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell, and their captain James Devine-Stoneman. Their opponents were Corpus Christi Cambridge, and they were Tristram Roberts, Kripa Panchagnula, Benedict McDougall and skipper Joseph Krol.

Off we went, then. Matt Hazell took first blood for St. John’s , recognising early that a type of deer and a type of star could both be red. Good shout. A full set on Zavodovski island, part of the South Sandwich islands gave them the best possible start. Tristram Roberts struck back equally quickly for Corpus Christi, knowing that Fermat didn’t have enough room in the margin to write the solution to his last theorem. I’ll be honest, the only one of their bonuses that I knew on choreographers was the one that they got on Bob Fosse – whom I also though was the subject of the film Gorillas in the Mist. Rosie McKeown knew that Prayers and Meditations was written by Catherine Parr – good shout again. Thermodynamics bonuses followed. In the words of Ultravox, thie means nothing to me, but provided another full house for St. John’s. John-Clark Levin had a speculative punt that the European capital described in the next starter would be Stockholm, being 7 degrees further North than London, and he was right to do so. Once again, St. John’s took a full house on bonuses, this time on Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Never read that myself, but I read the Oryx and Crake trilogy over the summer and rather enjoyed them. Again Tristram Roberts hauled Corpus back into the game, knowing that the result of the meeting of particle and anti particle is annihilation. One bonus on mutinies followed to take us up to the picture starter. An abridged set of first lines from a famous poet appeared. In the middle, “Let us go then, you and I” was the big clue that this was TS Eliot. Rosie McKeown snapped that one up. For the bonuses St. John’s had to supply both poet and title of collection, and yes, they did have another full house. This meant that every question that St. John’s had answered up to the 10 minute mark they had answered correctly. Corpus Christi, with 30, were not playing at all badly. But to this point St. John’s, with 100, were playing brilliantly.

It really paid to wait with the next starter, as all of a sudden it became clear that the answer required the word longhorn, supplied by Rosie McKeown. The Geography bonuses saw them wavering on a couple of questions, but still they supplied the answers to a full house of bonuses. The impressive Rosie McKeown showed no mercy towards poor, shell shocked Corpus, knowing the Cuban dance, the Habanera for the next starter. Finally they showed just a little vulnerability on a set of Geology bonuses, not knowing the term orogeny. Is that where orogenous zones come from? Mind you, they still took the other two bonuses. Again, Tristram Roberts interrupted the run of St. John’s starters, knowing the definition of the metre squared. Sadly they only managed one of a gettable set on Edouard Manet. It was Rosie McKeown again who knew that the Iolani Palace is in Honolulu. Again they missed out on a full house, but staphylococci bacteria still provided two correct answers. So to the music starter, and for once St. John’s supplied an incorrect starter answer.Neither Corpus nor I recognised the work of Weber. The St. John’s skipper was very quickly in to win the dubious honour of the music bonuses, knowing all about particles and spin. The bonuses did nothing for any of us. Matt Hazell correctly identified sparrows as being one of the four pests, the eradication of which was one goal of China’s 1958 Great Leap Forward. Bonuses on works of European Romanticism brought a further two correct answers, and I did wonder if JP was about to administer the coup de grace to Corpus by telling them that there was plenty of time left to come back. Rosie McKeown edged her team through the 200 barrier, recognising various writers with the Christian name Elizabeth. A single bonus on capitalism followed. Joseph-Clark Levin knew that Stalin was criticised in the work The Cult of Personality and its Consequences, which brought up an excellent UC special set on nationalities whose name appears when a certain combination of words are entered in Google – eg – cheese and army knife for Swiss. 2 correct answers meant that on the cusp of the 20 minute mark St. John’s led by 230 to 45.

Nobody recognised the work of Delacroix for the 2nd picture starter. Tristram Roberts knew the acronym DDS in computing terms, and received the picture bonuses for his pains. The team could only recognise the work of JMW Turner. Rosie McKeown knew or guessed that the 1930s was described poetically as a low, dishonest decade, and bonuses on Shakespeare provided 2 more correct answers. Matt Hazell knew that in biological terms NK stands for Natural Killer. 5 letter cricketing terms only provided one guessed answer, but so what? St. John’s were through, and poor old Corpus were over 200 points behind. One had to feel for Tristram Roberts. HE took another starter knowing Confucianism, and his personal total was a good one, but sadly none of the rest of his team had been able to find their range with the buzzer. I’ll be honest, when JP announced that they had won a set of bonuses on Norwegian writers, I would have blamed them for saying ‘you’re having a laugh, aint yer? ‘ – my answer to each was Ibsen, and was wrong. This left Corpus becalmed on 70. James Devine-Stoneman guessed that cetane rating applies to diesel fuel, to stretch the gap to over 200 points again. 10 points on chess terminology put St. John’s within striking distance of the 300 barrier – one visit to the table could be enough. Yet it was the Corpus Christi skipper who recognised the 2 St. Bernards (humans, not dogs) in the next starter. Sadly there was no time for them to find a correct answer to the set on Archbishops of Canterbury, and at the gong the score was 285 – 80 in St. John’s favour.

I’m glad that JP said nothing to rub it in to Corpus Christi. Yes, maybe they might have thrown caution to the wind a little more with the buzzer, but let’s give credit where it’s due. The margin was heavy because St. John’s played so well, and displayed good and at times great knowledge across a very wide range of disciplines. Nobody will fancy playing against them in the quarters, and they need to be taken extremely seriously. A very fine performance.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Nothing to see here. Get on with your lives, citizens.

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

Both Temple Archbishops of Canterbury, father and son, died in office. 

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