Saturday, 28 July 2018

University Challenge 2019 - Round One Heat 2 - Emmanuel, Cambridge v. Glasgow University

Emmanuel, Cambridge v. Glasgow

Hello again, Dearly Beloved, and how was your week? Mine? Well, to be honest, pretty good, thanks for asking. Start of the school summer holidays is always a time for celebration. So, who would be celebrating after this second heat? First off we had Connor Macdonald, Vedanth Nair, Ben Harris and skipper Daniella Cugini, representing Emmanuel, Cambridge. Their opponents were Glasgow University, in the shape of Lewis Barn, Freya Whiteford, Cameron Herbert, and captain James Hampson. If these two teams could provide as good a match as we’d been served up in the first heat, then I wouldn’t be complaining.

5  letter word – symphonic poem by Mussorgsky. That was enough to give me night for the first starter, and a poem by Auden and painting by Rembrandt saw James Hampson win the buzzer race. This earned Glasgow a set of bonuses on Heligoland, of which we both took a brace. Ben Harris opened Emma’s account, recognising a definition of the word metabolism. Renaissance court painters provided a relatively tricky set of which they took 1. Both Lewis Barn and I took a flier on the next, offering Alfred Hitchcock for a film maker born in London in 1899. Nobel laureates in Chemistry saw me set off around the living room for being able to dredge up the name of Dorothy Hodgkin. A couple of correct answers saw Glasgow extend their lead. So to the picture round. We saw the island of New Guinea, and the first to identify it was Connor Macdonald. More international islands whose territory is divided between two or more nations saw Emma take an impressive full house. I felt that identifying St. Martin’s – which I couldn’t – was particularly good. Connor Macdonald took a second consecutive starter, coming in early to identify the playwright and actor Sam Shepard. The Hindu goddess Durga didn’t necessarily promise a great deal, but gave me a full house to Emma’s one. Now, when the words – in a mathematical magic square – passed JP’s lips for the next starter, I thought that there was no chance of me getting it. In desperation, after JP had read out 8 numbers, I said 5 which was the only one he hadn’t mentioned. Lewis Barn buzzed in with the same number. It was right. Flabbergasted enough to break my ‘too old for more than one lap of honour per show’ rule, when I sat back down Glasgow had taken 1 bonus on animal names which comprise of two other animal names, for example raccoon dog. This had the effect of levelling the scores at 55 apiece on the ten minute mark.

Daniella Cugini recognised that Myron was the sculptor of the Discobolus, and buzzed in early to earn bonuses on photographic self portraits. We both ook two bonuses, missing out on Cindy Sherman (altogether now – also known as Cindy Who in Lam Towers). Lewis Barn buzzed in early to supply us with the term bionic, in a question which alluded to the 10 year old me’s favourite TV show, the Six Million Dollar Man. 6 million dollars. Today that’d maybe get you half a bionic fingertip. The solar system bonuses saw captain James Hampson at one point say one of my favourite quiz observations – ‘I don’t even understand the question’. They still took a bonus. A really lovely UC special question alluded to the word byte in the middle of Presbyterian. Freya Whiteford zigged with bit, allowing Vedanth Nair to zag with byte. A set on German political parties gave Emmanuel a full house, putting them into triple figures as we headed to the music starter. The unique tones of Debbie Harry singing about a chap called Dennis allowed James Hampson to buzz in with Blondie. Three more songs by anglophone acts including refrains or interludes from other languages saw Glasgow take a timely full house, and thus earn the much prized Paxman well done. The next starter, about the insect order dermaptera, was one of those which suddenly becomes obvious, and this time it was Connor Macdonald who won the buzzer race to identify earwigs. An impressive full house on optimism followed. Asked for the political office held by John Aislabie who was found guilty of corruption in promoting the South Sea company- Chancellor of the Exchequer was always going to be worth a punt, and the first to take the opportunity was Cameron Herbert. Bonuses on physics gave Glasgow a full house – and I answered Joule for a Lancashire born physicist, but declined the third lap of honour this offered me. Vedanth Nair came in too early for the Appalachians – the American Mountain range including various named series of hills, losing five, but James Hampson couldn’t capitalise, zigging with the Rockies. The big clue was the mention of the Shenandoah. Neither team could quite dredge up the Royal Academy of Arts for the next starter. Now – how about this. The next starter asked “A letter of the Swedish alphabet is the official symbol used to measure wavelengths – and at this point I came up with Angstrom, literally as Freya Whiteford was buzzing in to offer the same answer. Yes, dearly beloved – for me an unprecedented fourth lap of honour worthy answer in the same show. National trails in England and Wales failed to provide them with any further points. This mean that right on the cusp of the 20 minute mark Glasgow held a slender lead of 130 – 120. What a good match.

The second starter showed us a still of the character Alan Partridge. The time it took for either team to buzz suggested that we at home got to see the photo several seconds before they did. James Hampson won that buzzer race. Stills from three more TV series created or co created by the great Armando Ianucci saw Glasgow take a full house – I should think so too. The Glasgow skipper took another flier for the next starter, knowing that the piers and Brighton and Aberystwyth are particularly known for their populations of starlings. English words of Arabic origin saw Glasgow take two. Even if they didn’t get another answer all night, their score of 175 would surely see them into the repechage round at the very least. Both teams thought for a moment before Vedanth Nair gave us Egypt and Saudi Arabia as the two countries either side of the Red Sea through which the Tropic of Cancer passes. Good shout, that. Bonuses on British royalty brought 2 bonuses, and for the second week running it looked as if both teams on show would have a good chance of playing a second match. Freya Whiteford took a flier with plankton for the next starter and lost five. She was unlucky since within a second or two it became obvious that the creatures being described were jellyfish. Ben Harris took that one. Hans Sloane (was he a bit of a square? I’m here all week, ladies and gents.) gave Emmanuel two bonuses and reduced the gap between the teams to just ten points. Cameron Herbert identified David Hockney as the subject of a 2017 retrospective exhibition for the next starter. Winter and poets only yielded five points, which meant that the teams would be all square if Emma could take a full house on the next set. Instead Ben Harris lost five, but can’t be blamed for slinging buzzer at this stage of the game. James Hampson couldn’t capitalise, neither team giving the sought after term of glycine. The musical term alla tedesca means after the style of the people of Germany. How did I manage to guess that? Well, in my youth I was known to read the odd war comic, and distinctly remember times when the German soldiers were called ‘Tedeschi’. Sad. Neither team guessed that one. Now, the fact that Hardy’s novel “Far From the Madding Crowd” takes its title from a line in Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard” is a bit of an old chestnut, meant I was a little surprised that both teams rather sat on their buzzers before Daniela Cugini buzzed in with the right answer. Wars fought by the Brits in Asia saw them take two very quick bonuses, though it was interesting to see Ben Harris seemingly advising his excitable skipper to exercise a little caution at this stage. With a ten point gap and at most a couple of minutes to go, it really was squeaky bum time. The unflappable Glasgow skipper was first to buzz in with the term distal for the next starter. Bonuses on Michael Vaughan pushed them to 200. Emmanuel could still tie the scores with a full house, but was there enough time? No. We were gonged halfway through a Jane Austen starter. 

Well played both teams, that was a great match. Emmanuel must have an excellent chance of a repechage play off with 175 points. As for Glasgow, congratulations on a fine performance. Best of luck in the second round. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Right then Jez, since you insist on correcting perfectly good answers, here’s a correction for you. You asked for a 6 LETTER TERM. Lewis Barn correctly answered Bionic. “BIONICS, yes” you replied. Jez, for heaven’s sake, count the number of letters in bionics. That’s just embarrassing. 

When weighing up options for one of the optimism bonuses Emmanuel decided that Schopenhauer was ‘a bit miserable’ and when offered this as an answer, JP replied , “Correct – a very miserable man indeed.” Altogether now – takes one to know one, Jezza. 

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

Brit Frederick Sanger is the only person so far to have won two Nobel Prizes in Chemistry.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

University Challenge 2019 - Round One - Heat One - Warwick v. Exeter

Yippee! It’s mid-July, and University Challenge is back. The 2018 series after a dodgy start proved to be an absolute cracker. Here’s hoping the latest edition will prove to be so too, and if it can do so with fewer first round mismatches, so much the better. Now, I may be wrong, but I fancy that this might well be JP’s 25th year of presenting the show, in which case it sees him equal the great Bamber Gascoigne’s run in the show’s original incarnation. Many congratulations if that is the case.

And so to business. First up we had the universities of Warwick and Exeter. I’ve never been fortunate enough to visit the University of Warwick but had a wonderful day a couple of months ago where a party of my pupils were hosted by Exeter University for the day, and a most beautiful place it is. Warwick were represented by Emily Wolfenden, Jacopo Sartori, Robert Gowers and captain Ben Beardsley. Exeter’s team were Simon Waitland, Will Klintworth, Jessica Brown and their skipper Danny Lay. 

The first starter gave us several clues to the word fever. The last being the 1977 film whose soundtrack features ‘Stayin’ Alive’, Jacopo Sartori got the right film, but the wrong word with night. This allowed the Exeter skipper in. He earned bonuses on  words marked ‘origin unascertained’ in the OED. Exeter took the first two, but for the last they zigged with Tory when they should have zagged with Whig. The next starter asked for the name of a ship. As soon as it mentioned setting out in 1831 I took a flier with HMS Beagle. Moments later Will Klintworth did the same just before JP was about to give us the name of Robert Fitzroy. Right – here we go. The next question gave us the first (very mildly) controversial moment of the series. Asked for the French artist who depicted the oath of the tennis court amongst other things, Exeter answered Jean-Jacques David. JP awarded them the point, although he took care to correct them that the painter’s name was actually Jacques Louis David. “Yes, David is correct – it was Jacques Louis in fact.” OK, now, to the best of my knowledge there’s no internationally accepted hard and fast written set of rules for quizzing. But what I’ve observed I many if not most of the quizzes that I’ve played in is that UNLESS the forename is specifically asked for in the question, then the surname alone is acceptable for an answer. However, EVEN IF the question does not ask for the forename, if the player chooses to give the forename and gives it incorrectly, then even if the surname is correct the answer is adjudged wrong. – AS I say, there’s no hard and fast set of written rules which applies to all quizzes, and not every quiz that I’ve played in follows this convention. I mention it though because it sets a precedent, and if it’s allowed in this question, then in the interests of fairness it should be allowed throughout the series.  – OK, 1 – 2 -3 we’re back in the room and out of pedantry corner. Exeter took the full house on David. Did you know that mebi denotes 2 to the power of 20 – I think? Me neither, and nor did either team, with Warwick losing five for an early buzz. For the next starter I took a flier on tall tree like grasses of Asia being bamboo, meaning that the only two consonants in the word were b and m. Other clues bore this out. Emily Wolfenden was first in to wipe out the Warwick deficit. Physics and astronomy gave me nowt but Warwick took 10 points. So to the picture starter and , wonder of wonders, something I actually know a little about in Science, the periodic table. We were shown a small section and asked to work out the missing element. “Gallium!” I shouted, and set out on my lap of honour, before hurriedly sitting down again as Danny Lay gave the correct answer of Germanium. I was one out. Still, I took a full house of bonuses of more of the same. You can bet your life I completed my lap of honour then. Ben Beardsley atoned for losing five on the previous starter by coming in very early to identify a Fresnel lens for the next starter. Economics and economists did nothing for me, nor for Warwick for that matter. This left the score at 65 to 20 in Exeter’s favour at just after the ten minute mark.

I knew that it was Gore Vidal who coined the term The United States of Amnesia. Neither team twitched until JP mentioned Myra Breckinridge, which saw Will Klintworth buzz in for the points. This gave Exeter bonuses on Chien-Shiung Wu (yes, quite right, also known as CHien-Siung Who? in LAM Towers) . Doesn’t matter – I still got Uranium 235 and 238. I’m too old for two laps of honour, but for me it was worth one. Exeter took two bonuses to my one. I knew that the Glomma is a river in Norway though, which neither team did. Fair play to Ben Beardsley of Warwick, though. He had answered Angels in America for the next question while I was just starting to process the question. Albums of Bob Dylan should have given me more, but I only managed the first and last. Warwick took one bonus. The Warwick skipper clearly had the bit between his teeth when he took the starter knowing something about calculus to which the answer was lambada – sorry - lamda. Fair enough. Biology answers beginning with the letters co – gave Warwick a couple of correct answers, and me an unexpected full house. Cotyledon? Really? Where the hell did I dredge that answer from? No idea. So to the music starter. Now, played part of a symphony I thought – sounds like 20th century, which for me narrows it down to two composers – Stravinsky and Shostakovitch. I zigged with Stravinsky, while Danny Lay knew it was Shostakovitch. More classical works with a title or nickname taken from the name of a city. I recognised the first two, but missed Haydn’s London symphony, as did Exeter. Now, for the next starter, after the date of birth, and the fact he started as a Conservative MP, then an Independent, then became a Labour MP I confidently asserted it was Oswald Moseley. As JP was halfway through mentioning the British Union of Fascists, Robert Gowers came in with the correct answer. Place names beginning with Ak gave Warwick two correct answers and me one.  Danny Lay pounced on the next starter knowing the founders of the video game company Valve. Performers who are also Companions of Honour saw the funniest moment of the show, as Exeter offered Mick Jagger when the answer was Dame Vera Lynn. Which reminds me of a nice story. When jazz legend George Melly once remarked on Jagger’s growing number of crow’s feet, he replied that they were laughter lines. Quick as a flash Melly retorted “Nothing’s that funny!” No? Well, please yourselves. They failed to take either of the other bonuses on offer. Right then, ladies and gents. Believe it or not I had a third lap of honour-worthy answer when I supplied the word organelle just before Ben Beardsley did for the next starter. I only knew it through past editions of UC. Aquatic ecology provided both of us with just the one correct answer. Neither team knew that the 1946 Peace Constitution was that of Japan – I thought that one was guessable if you didn’t know it. Still, on the cusp of the 20 minute mark the scores stood at 115 to 85 to Exeter. They’d looked well in control in the first 10 minutes, but now we certainly had a game on our hands. Good show.

A rush of blood to the head saw Will Klintworth lose five for suggesting the Brownlee Brothers won medals in the decathlon. This allowed Ben Beardsley in for triathlon. Medical radio isotopes promised me but little, still I managed the second. Warwick took the last. The second picture round saw the impressive Warwick skipper provide the title of a painting – The Last Judgement – all the time shaking his head as he did so. More paintings on the same subject brought just 5 more points. Emily Wolfenden buzzed early to identify Tchaikovsky’s words about Rome and Juliet. Bonuses on British History and specifically Princes of Wales were all gettable, and they managed two. That set had put Warwick into the lead for the first time in the match with just 5 minutes remaining. I was impressed with the way Simon Waitland identified the Oystercatcher from its description and the fact it is the national bird of the Faroe Islands. The musician and performer Wendy Carlos (yes, alright, Wendy Who? in LAM Towers), gave Exeter a timely full house. Both teams were tied, and this was turning into an excellent match. Warwick looked in trouble when Jacopo Sartori took a flyer that Warsaw was the city being described for the next starter. It lost them five, and let in Will Klintworth with Krakow. (“KRAKOFF is correct” sniffed Jex). Microbiology offered a chance to stretch the elastic between themselves and Warwick, but they failed to add to their score. None of us had a clue about a Leclanche cell for the next starter. The next one was a buzzer race, though, with Emily Wolfenden the first to work out that the capital of the US State named after Elizabeth I is Richmond. One bonus to tie the scores – any more and Warwick would lead. The Islamic Calendar gave them 10 points, and a sender lead. With only a minute to go, it looked like it would all come down to the next starter. Quite rightly Will Klintworth gambled on speed – but his answer was wide of the mark. Robert Gowers gave the correct name, the Italian mathematician Peano, and bonuses on Romantic poets and birds took their score to 165. Even a full house for Exeter would only tie the teams again now. On a flag starter I was pleased I could identify Rwanda, as did Danny Lay. I reckon that could be an important answer. We were gonged before they could answer a bonus, so it didn’t mean that Exeter won. However, 150 makes them more likely to take a repechage slot than 140 would have. Warwick’s 165 though put them through as of right.

Well played both teams. This is the kind of match we want to see and was a great start to the new series. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Hardly anything to report. He still corrects punctuation does Jez, though. When Warwick offered AYKron he replied somewhat pointedly, “ACKron, yes.”

On the second picture bonuses, where Warwick came up with the sensible suggestion of Dore, he poopoohed this, “No it’s William Blake - Very distinctive.” Yeah, well, it’s easy to say that when you’ve got the answer written down in front of you, Jez. Try it from the other side of the desk. Not so easy now, matey boy. 

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

The OED lists the origin of the word tantrum as possibly deriving from a Welshman’s mispronunciation of the word ‘anthem’. (Personally, I think that’s probably a load of cachu. If you don’t speak Welsh, guess or look it up.)