Friday, 26 January 2018

University Challenge - Round Two - Oxford Brookes v. Merton, Oxford

Oxford Brookes v. Merton, Oxford

Thus we come to the last of the 2nd round matches. Oxford Brookes, represented by Chiswick’s Inigo Purcell and also by Pat O’Shea, Emma-Ben Lewis and their captain Thomas De Bock. Much fancied Merton were Edward Thomas, Alex Peplow, Akira Wiberg and skipper Leonie Woodland. As JP himself would say, let’s get on with it. 

For the first question Alex Peplow won the buzzer race after the question mentioned Upper and Lower Kingdoms, which gave us both Egypt. Bonuses on Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, gave us both a full house. The next starter saw Alex Peplow take a second consecutive starter, completing a quote from Aristotle. Classical music saw them take a second consecutive full house, and to be fair their favourites tag was looking well justified in these early exchanges. I set off early on my lap of honour in this contest for identifying a description of the Mesosphere. What do you mean it must have been a guess – of course it was. Still counts, though. Leonie Woodland was in for that one. 9 questions in and Merton had answered every one of them correctly. Animals protected in the UK slightly applied the brakes to their runaway juggernaut, though. They zigged with butterfly when they should have zagged with moth for the first. Nonetheless they took the other two, and Alex Peplow took his third starter, knowing that Georges Bizet was the composer behind L’Arlesienne. Cities in the USA sharing the same initial letter were all gettable, but Merton took two of them. All of which took them to 90 unanswered points out of a potential 100 in the space of a few minutes. The picture starter showed us a fictional family tree and asked for the name of the fictional dynasty. For once Alex Peplow showed just a little vulnerability, buzzing then being unable to give an answer. Thus presented with an open goal, Thomas De Bock tapped it in with the name Buendia from One Hundred Years of Solitude (or as my grandmother once called it, One Hundred Years of Soliciting). Bonuses gave three more fictional family trees, of which they identified two, missing out on DH Lawrence’s Brangwen clan from The Rainbow and Women in Love. Alex Peplow was back on form for the next starter, knowing Lolita to be the title of an earlier novel appearing in the title of a work by Azar Nafisi. French words ending in – sque which are used in English took their score to 105, as opposed to Oxford Brookes’ 20 at the 10 minute mark. 

The fightback began with Thomas De Bock coming in very early to answer that Reamur and Rankine both have something to do with temperature. Italian physicists brought us both one correct answer with Fermi. The next starter was a UC special which asked for any of the 8 US states that contain only one of the 5 vowels other than Alaska, Kansas, Maryland or New Jersey. “Alabama” I shouted. A rush of blood to the head saw Pat O’Shea buzz in with Utah. Asked for two Akira Wiberg got one with Tennessee. The other two neither of us mentioned were Arkansas and Mississippi. Once again it was that man Peplow who got the ball rolling again recognising that it was Oliver Cromwell who said “I would not build Jericho again”. A full set of bonuses on British Dominions during world war I gave them a three figure lead. Pat O’Shea atoned for her earlier mishap, being the first to recognise a group of people linked by the surname Hutton. Two bonuses on words beginning with idio – reduced the gap to double figures and brought us to the music starter. Akira Wiberg gave one of the fastest correct buzzes on a music starter that I’ve ever seen to identify an overture by Wagner from possibly two notes. Three more notable ‘phantoms of the opera’ provided a couple of bonuses, and the gap widened again. I was in very quickly to say that Tim Peake departed from Baikonur, and both teams sat on their buzzers a little until Thomas De Bock gave the correct answer. Bonuses on the brain brought a timely full house. The highly effective Oxford Brookes captain was in very quickly for the next starter, the philosophical term Dasein. A bonus on bends in rivers reduced the gap to 65 points. Akira Wiberg widened it again, knowing that of the 7 SI base units, 2 are eponymous. Maths and Logic promised me but little and delivered nowt, while Merton took 2. Alex Peplow came back into the game, knowing a couple of American painters whose works were described as ‘black’. Bonuses on Alice Walker provided a single bonus, which meant that Merton led by 190 to 90 at the 20 minute mark. So despite Oxford Brookes’ more spirited performance in this midsection of the contest, Merton had still had the better of it.

Not that Thomas De Bock was conceding anything yet, as he won the buzzer race to supply the word subpoena. Pairs of word differing by the addition of ca- to the first to make the second were a lovely little UC special set, and they gave Oxford Brookes a useful full set. The picture starter showed us a young miss cuddling a bull. “Europa!” I shouted, and inevitably Alex Peplow was first in to echo my answer. More paintings of erotic metamorphoses of Zeus brought a couple of bonuses. They might have had Danae (Zeus certainly did. I’m here all week, ladies and gents.). Thomas de Bock’s spirited buzzing was maybe now spreading to the rest of his team, as Inigo Purcell came in early to identify a quotation from a translation of the Iliad. This won bonuses on the heather family and one correct answer brought another five hard won points. Another terrific early buzz from Thomas De Bock saw him identify the Canadian Government’s term First Nations. Ken Loach gave them another full house, and although you never quite felt that they were going to catch Merton, you had to concede that they were building a healthy score of their own. Pat O’Shea continued the charge, knowing that Constable was born in Suffolk in 1776. Bodies of water saw them get 2 bonuses, which actually put them within 35 points of Merton, the closest they’d been since the very early stages of the match. It was as if the Merton skipper was telling them – that’s quite enough of that – as she buzzed in to identify cassiterite as a main ore of tin. German Universities saw them push the gap past two full sets, and make the contest absolutely safe. Alex Peplow recognised characters from Cymbeline for the next starter to earn a set of bonuses on castles. A great shout on a UC special about cities and their size and population size, saw Alex Peplow work out that Leeds would be E. That really was it since we were gonged before we heard any of the bonuses. 

A fine win for Merton with 255 to 175, all the better considering the very good performance they had to contend with from Oxford Brookes. I didn't count, but I would imagine that their bonus conversion rate for this show was a thing of beauty. This must be one of the highest aggregates from the series so far, and justifies Merton’s position amongst the favourites. Good show, and well played all. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Nothing to see here. Go back to your lives, citizens.

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

Cromwell was responsible for the saying “I would not build Jericho again”


Jack said...

This was indeed a seriously good, high quality match, between two teams that performed superbly on the buzzer, Mr Peplow ending with NINE(!) and Mr De Bock six, and the bonuses, Oxford Brookes converting 18/27 and Merton 25/36, both very good rates. Merton will definitely be fancied in the QFs, but it's a shame Oxford Brookes won't be there as well; matches like this make me think the show should adopt a variant of Only Connect's current format.

On Monday, the QFs kick off with Bristol vs Newcastle, followed, I would imagine, by Fitzwilliam vs Merton the week after.

Londinius said...

Thanks as always Jack.
Personally, I think that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But that's just my opinion, and as always, feel free to disagree.

Unknown said...

I was quite upset after the end of that match, so reading this a considerable time afterwards was genuinely delightful