Friday, 2 March 2018

University Challenge Quarter Finals stages - Qualification Match - Newcastle v. St. John's, Cambridge

Newcastle v. St. John’s Cambridge

Newcastle, represented by Jack Reynard, Molly Nielsen, Adam Lowery, and their skipper Jonathan Noble, had a victory over Bristol in their first quarter match, which looked more comfortable on the scoreline than it actually was. Their unbeaten opponents in this first qualification match were St. John’s, represented by John-Clark Levin, Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell, and their captain James Devine-Stoneman defeated the University of Ulster, where their blitz start gave the enough of a cushion to ride out a late onslaught. The prize in this show? Qualification for the semi finals. 

I’ll be honest, even before Jonathan Noble came in with an incorrect interruption for the first starter, the name Alfred Waterhouse rang a bell, and the moment JP mentioned a building with facades of terracotta I went for the Natural History Museum. Rosie McKeown put the all into the open goal for that one. Biopics provided me with a full house, and St. John’s with 2.I’ll be honest, when I hear the word ‘monetarism’ I tend to automatically think of Milton Friedman – who I used to think was also theatre critic for the Evening Standard – and it was Jonathan Noble who atoned for his earlier misfire by winning the buzzer race for this one. Nobel laureates yielded both of us only the one correct answer. I’ve no idea where I’ve read about Bird in Space, but the moment it was mentioned I came up with the name Brancusi. So did Molly Nielsen. Astronomy bonuses whose answers began with H provided  a full house.For the picture starter we saw the titles of three paintings by the same artist, given in the language in which they were originally titles. Le Fils de l’Homme (1964) made me chance my arm with Rene Magritte (surely Le Fils De la Pomme? Oh, come on folks – puns in French as well, that’s gotta be worth the price of admission today.) Molly Nielsen took her second successive starter with this one. I had Giacometti from L’Homme Qui Marche, and also Salvador Dali, but I missed Malevitch. Newcastle took just the last of these. I’ll be honest, I have no idea whether my school had any Brady’s Reagent to destroy, but neither team managed to identify it from the question – Jack Reynard losing 5 for an incorrect interruption. Rosie McKeown won the buzzer race to identify the language group including Finish and Hungarian as taking it’s name from the Urals. Animal sanctuaries in India, and the states in which they are located promised me little, and delivered less – St. John’s managed one. So at the 10 minute mark we had a nicely balanced contest, as Newcastle led 45 – 30.

John Clark Levin knew that Deo Vindice was the motto of the Confederate States of America. Artists sponsored by Queen Cristina of Sweden saw St. John’s quickly grab a full house and the lead. A lovely UC starter saw Johnathan Noble link a Henry James novel and a Canterbury tale with the word Miller. Experiments concerned with the theory of Biogenesis – aren’t they a Phil Collins tribute band? – gave me a lap of honour moment when Louis Pasteur proved correct for the last question. Newcastle had also managed the first bonus. Nobody knew WV Quine for the next starter, but John Clark Levin lost five. Now, when the next starter asked for apes of South East Asia, James Devine Stoneman zigged with orangutan, allowing Newcastle a shot at an open goal. After all, the other ape, as opposed to monkey of the area is the gibbon. They spurned the chance to zag that way, and thus an opportunity was missed. For the third starter in a row, St. John’s lost five through an incorrect interruption. I’m sure that Rosie McKeown was going for Albrecht Durer, which made perfect sense, but the two letters being looked for had to be those of the domain name of the country that won the world cup in 2010. Spain = es, but nobody in Newcastle knew, and a second chance to capitalise went begging. Now, when JP said Chulalongkorn, apart from an urge to say bless you, a memory of that being the name of the Crown Prince in the 1970s TV series Anna and the King – based on The King and I – based on Anna Leonowens’ experiences as governess at the court of the King of Siam – also came into my head. So I answered Thailand just before John Clark Levin did the same to get his team out of reverse gear. Bonuses on battles whose names began with the same three letters gave them the full house they needed to take back the lead. This seemed to galvanise St. John’s, and James Devine Stoneman came in very quickly to identify Mossbauer for the next starter. Phosphorus and phosphates provided another 5 points. For the music starter we wanted an Austrian composer. Since Jonathan Noble zigged with Mozart, both Rosie McKeown and I zagged correctly with Haydn. The bonuses gave us three more works constructed with the help of palindromes. They only yielded the one for either of us. Oh, Jack Reynard was very unlucky when he came in early for the next starter. Given the names of Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, he gave the answer ‘succeeded a dead president.’ Now, while they all did that, it sadly didn’t fit the rest of the question , which specified that these were the ONLY men to do what? The first man to succeed a dead president was, I believe, John Tyler, when W.H. Harrison caught a chill on his inauguration and obligingly died a matter of days later. Given the whole question John Clark Levin supplied the answer. Jack Reynard did look a little cheesed off, which I understand, but that’s what can happen sometimes. Hard luck, I’m afraid. Shutdowns of the US Federal Government didn’t look promising, but I managed the same 2 that St. John’s did. Right on the cusp of the 20 minute marked it seemed as if St. John’s had begun to kick for the line, leading as they did by 120 – 60.

In a fabulous starter neither team knew that the favourites in Shakespeare’s Richard II who share their names with Royal Parks are Bushey and Green. Which is also the answer to the question, what does a privet hedge look like, but I digress. Medical student Molly Nielsen was very quick to recognise a description of the peritoneum for the next starter. A full house was provided on bonuses about Emma of Normandy and Harthacanute. Well, Harthacanute is better than none, I suppose. For the second picture starter both Rosie McKeown and I recognised the work of John Singer Sargent. More works by artists commissioned by the British War Memorials Committee provided them with one bonus, which was one more than they provided me. QUIZ CHESTNUT ALERT. Right, be honest. How many of you shouted out pheasant the moment that JP said nide? It took a little while longer, but Jack Reynard provided the answer for Newcastle. Physics delivered just a single bonus, but this was enough to take Newcastle to triple figures and give them a chance. Which was enhanced when Jonathan Noble recognised a quote relating to Eamonn De Valera. Events of the 20th century summarised in We Didn’t Start The Fire by Billy Joel saw them come close for all three bonuses but only take one. Nobody knew that the word chino comes from the Spanish for toasted. Jack Reynard knew what PEP stands for – no, I have no intention of trying to transcribe his answer. The South coast of England gave them the 10 points to draw level with St. John’s, with just minutes to go. Times like this are when you want a buzzer like Rosie McKeown on your team. In the time that it took me to work out which two of the 4 US States beginning with New are contiguous, she had already answered New York and New Jersey. Unit conversions added just 1 correct answer for both of us, but it did run the clock down a little further, which was all in St. John’s favour. Newcastle had to take the next starter, but it was the marvellous Miss McKeown who recognised that we were being asked for cogito ergo sum, or I think therefore I am. That really applied the coup de grace, earning bonuses on Symphonies. Didn’t matter, since the gong ended the contest, giving St. John’s a winning score of 160 – 135.

Good contest, good show. Congratulations to St. John’s, and Newcastle, well, don’t count them out yet. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I was absolutely delighted to hear JP pronounce the dinosaur as diPLODacus- my childhood pronunciation of the beast - rather than a diplOH-dockus as seems to have become pretty universal in intervening years. 

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

Based on the Russell – Einstein Manifesto, the conference which brings together scientists concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons is called Pugwash. Apparently the conference which brings together scientists who aren’t concerned about it is called Cutthroat Jake.


Jack said...

A good match this, between two good, closely matched sides, and it could have gone either way until St John's took those last two starters. It was those two final starters that won them the match, with both sides evenly matched on the bonuses, Newcastle 14/24 and St John's 15/28, with three penalties each. St John's are worthy semi-finalists, but Newcastle certainly have a good chance of reaching the semis, depending on the play-off draw.

On Monday, the first elimination match between Bristol and Ulster, followed by Merton vs Edinburgh and Fitzwilliam vs Emmanuel.

Aethelstan said...

Two very worthy teams there and an enjoyable match. Newcastle could easily outplay several of the quarter finalists one would have thought!! I noticed Nielson was very sportslady like in her clapping at the end of the match, and young McKeown is superb isn't she, they're lucky to have her aboard. Having had a look at everyone though I am not sure I can see the team that can challenge Mighty Merton, Johns and Newcastle are the only ones really approaching Captain Woodlands knowledge A380.

Monday should be a good one, quite equally matched, I may favour Ulster on speed.

Londinius said...

Are Ulster really on speed? I think we should be told.

In all seriousness, Merton at the moment look the best bet, but as regards St. John's you think twice before betting against a team who keep winning.

Aethelstan said...

I have visions now of the Ulster team.......

I suppose if I continued in an aviation theme Ulster is clearly a Lockheed Tristar.

It might interest people that the Johns captain has retweeted as I believe da yoot say a good article for some alumni magazine about team selection that is an interesting insight. Levin seems a decently experienced quizzer and I hadnt realised Mckeown was a freshman when this was filmed.

Stephen Follows said...

Wasn't the diplodocus question in the previous quarter-final?

Can we have a link to the St. John's article? Ta.

Aethelstan said...

Hopefully this works on the phone’s-team-take-university-challenge

Londinius said...

It was worth reading the article to be reminded that James Devine-Stoneman is an Ealing man like myself. Granted he went to Dormers Wells while I went to Elthorne High, nonetheless, respect for that.

Aethelstan said...

Glad they were of some interest, and Stephen yes you were quite right about the Chevallier death stare, I rewatched the match in preparation for Mertongeddon next week!