Friday, 6 April 2018

University Challenge: Quarter Final Elimination Match - Newcastle v. Fitzwilliam, Cambridge

Newcastle v. Fitzwilliam, Cambridge

Here we are then, dearly beloved, the last instalment of what has been a very enjoyable set of quarter finals. Newcastle, represented by Jack Reynard, Mollie Nielsen, Adam Lowery and captain Jonathan Noble beat Bristol in their first quarter match, but lost out to St. John’s Cambridge in their second. Opponents Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, in the shape of Theo Tindall, Theo Howe, Jack Maloney and captain Hugh Oxlade fell to the might of Merton in their first quarter, but came back to beat Emmanuel, Cambridge to set up this match.

First indications of how the tie might go were given when skipper Jonathan Noble won the buzzer race to recognise that the terms ‘fade’ and ‘bunker’ – answers to the first two clues in the question, related to the game of golf. They took two out of three bonuses on conveyances. I didn’t get palanquin either. Neither team really covered themselves in glory with the next starter. It asked for a European capital, and was one of those where you had to wait for it to become clear. Theo Tindall didn’t wait, and lost five. Newcastle might well have guessed Warsaw from King Stanislaus, but zagged with Berlin instead. Force, friction, heating and bulge may all be preceded by the word tidal. None of us knew that. For the next one we had a quote about Orwell. Then the question asked “which other English novelist . . . “ – which led both Jack Reynard and me to think that the other one who often gets paired with Orwell is Aldous Huxley. We were both right, earning the always valued Paxman ‘well done’ for doing so. Descriptions of Tory Prime ministers from the website provided a gettable set of bonuses, which earned Newcastle their first full house of the contest. I don’t think that Jonathan Noble quite heard the part of the next question which asked for the given name of a sister of Lazarus in the gospels, as he buzzed early to answer Daniel. Granted, that might have been Martha or Mary, but the clincher was that the same name belonged to two of the first three first ladies of the USA. Theo Tindall tapped that one into the open goal with Martha. That put them 5 points to the good, and bonuses on curves in Mathematics added a further 10. I toyed with taking off on a lap of honour for knowing that Descartes’ birth fitted the last question, but inertia won. For the picture starter we saw a section of an electrocardiograph trace. Asked for the specific term for the highlighted section Mollie Nielsen supplied the correct answer. More questions about specific SCG traces provided one bonus. I answered tachycardia to each, and thus earned myself a bonus  on the third. That was enough to set me off on the lap of honour. It was also enough to ensure that Newcastle had a healthy lead of 55 – 15 just a little shy of the 10 minute mark.

None of us knew Karl Popper, inventor of the snap fastener, for the next starter. Jonathan Noble guessed, as did I, that the next question referred to the UC – Canada border, and zigged correctly with 49th Parallel. Battles described in poetry furnished Newcastle with a further ten points. Jack Maloney knew that if you multiplied the number of sides on a teradecagon (14) by the number of sides on an undecagon (11) you get 154. Quick buzz, and much needed by his team at this stage. A lovely UC special set, pairs of place names in which the final part of the first is the start of the second – ClitheROE and ROE Hampton being the given example – followed, and provided Fitzwilliam with a full house. I was very pleased with myself for coming up with the anatomical term vestigial for the next starter, especially when Molly Nielsen did the same, and JP confirmed we were both right. Bonuses on Passing provided nowt for Newcastle. So to the music starter. A brief snatch of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring was enough for both me and Jonathan Noble to identify the work of JS Bach. Other recordings made by Dame Myra Hess provided a further ten points and took Newcastle into triple figures. Molly Nielsen correctly guessed that La Parisienne was by Renoir. Fossils provided a single bonus, but to an extent that didn’t really matter. Every time that Newcastle returned to the table, Fitzwilliam’s chances were growing slimmer. Molly Nielsen came in too early for the next question about Albert Schweitzer. He may well have also established a hospital in Hungary, but is better known surely for doing so in Gabon, which was Jack Maloney’s answer. I was out with the washing on Chinese Emperors, but Fitzwilliam managed the first. A little short of the 20 minute mark, Newcastle now led 110 – 55. That’s actually a gap which can be bridged in a few minutes, but nothing so far within the match had suggested that this was at all likely to happen.

Jonathan Noble knew that Young challenged Newton’s view that light was a stream of corpuscles. Fair enough. 3 bonuses on slate brought 2 correct answers, although no points for not knowing the rather wonderful Ffestiniog Railway line in North Wales. The second picture starter announced an actor, and showed us John Wilkes Booth. (Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?)Hugh Oxlade won the buzzer race to identify him. 3 more political assassins who subsequently died at the hands of the state gave Fitzwilliam a further 10 points. Interestingly John Bellingham was one of them, while the man he assassinated, Spencer Percival, had been the answer to one of the Tory PM bonuses earlier. Theo Howe seemed most surprised when his answer of Tantalus as the brother of Thyestes was wrong – sorry, but it was. This allowed Jonathan Noble, who had led his side from the front all evening, to correctly identify Atreus. Women born in the 1870s and 1880s gave them the two bonuses they needed to reach 150. The Newcastle skipper won the buzzer race for the next starter as well, knowing that the white boar was the personal emblem of Richard III. A UC special set followed on words which begin and end with the same three letters, for example HOTsHOT. 2 bonuses gave Newcastle a lead of 100, and there was not time for the 4 full sets that Fitzwilliam would now need to bridge that gap. Molly Nielsen knew that macrolides are antibiotics which brought up a set on poetry. Both of us only managed the one. None of us knew the term minimal pairs from linguistics. Jack Maloney came in too early for the next starter, allowing Adam Lowery to work out that if it’s a spice made from a dried bud, it’s probably cloves. Bonuses on Pascal’s Triangle brought a further 10 points to Newcastle. That was it, as the next starter was gonged halfway through.

Newcastle won convincingly by 205 – 65, against a Fitzwilliam team who have been better in this series than their score in this match suggests. Sometimes teams just seem to run out of steam, and that was what happened to them, I think. Another very good performance from Newcastle. By my reckoning they’re underdogs for the series, but hey, what do I know? Best of luck in the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Rather tetchily, I thought, JP greeted Mollie Nielsen’s correct answer to the picture starter with , “Thank Heavens for that! You’re going to be a doctor, aren’t you?” Look, Jez, it’s not her fault that she was asked a question which related specifically to her own field of study.

For the placenames bonuses, when Hugh Oxlade gave the correct answer – EccLES and LESbos, he made a wry observation “Rarely run together, I think”.

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
The 49th Parallel was nicknamed the Medicine Line by indigenous peoples because of its miraculous ability to halt troops from the USA

1 comment:

Jack said...

Deserved win for Newcastle, who seem to have been steadily improving over the course of the series, but Fitzwilliam were a better team across the series than the scoreline suggests, nothing for them to be ashamed of. In fact, it was pretty much on the buzzer Newcastle won, their bonus rates, 20/36 to Fitzwilliam's 8/12, being rather even.