Friday, 31 August 2018

University Challenge - First Round heat 4 - SOAS v. Darwin, Cambridge

Hello again. Summer is nearly over, and I’m back from all of my travels. It could well take a while to catch up on UC, but I’ll do my best, dearly beloved. 

So let’s start with heat 4 – SOAS v. Downing, Cambridge. Representing the School of Oriental and African Studies we had Mark Thomas, Chad Beaman, Tom Pollitt and captain Harriet Gemmill. Playing for Darwin Cambridge were  Stuart McPherson, Christopher Davis, Guy Mulley and skipper Jason Golfinos. 

The first question asked for a precious stone, and as soon as JP said ‘nephrite’ I knew it was jade. I’ve asked that one several times down the rugby club. First on the buzzer – and not for the last time in this show – was Darwin’s Jason Golfinos. The world in 1997 yielded just a single bonus. Right, now, when you’re asked about award winning women film directors, the answer is often Katherine Bigelow, but it didn’t work this time for Jason Golfinos. Now, if it’s not Katherine Bigelow, Sofia Coppola is usually a very good shout. SOAS couldn’t dredge that one up.  I’m old enough to have given the answer to the next starter after the words Crosby in 1981 – which I believe was Shirley Williams. Glasgow Hillhead was certainly Roy Jenkins. We had a little more of the question before Mark Thomas supplied the answer of the SDP. Miraculous births in mythology provided two correct answers. Jason Golfinos took his second starter of the evening, recognising various definitions of the word foil. The US astronomer Vera Rubin (any relation to Billy?) provided two bonuses, which took us up to the picture starter. This was a rather straightforward Latin phrase, where the teams were asked for the sense of the phrase. Salus populi suprema lex esto, as Jason Golfinos knew, means the health of the people is the supreme law. Yeah, I’ve heard snappier slogans too. Three more Latin legal maxims earned two more bonuses. The next question asked for a specific astrological phenomenon. Chad Beaman came in too early with the orbit of Mars, allowing Jason Golfinos to take his 4th starter with supernova. Not ten minutes into the contest yet, either. The economist Robert Solow – yes, yes, known as Robert Who in LAM Towers – provided a further two bonuses. So right on the cusp of the ten minute mark, Darwin led by 75 – 15.

The Aphrodite of Knidos is one of the only existing examples of the work of Praxiteles. Gesundheit. Jason Golfinos took his 5th starter with that one. Award winning video games saw them take their first full house of the contest. Poor Chad Beaman fell right into the trap with the next starter. As he should do with his team trailing, he went for the buzzer as soon as it seemed to become obvious. It asked for a given name linked with several people, one of which being Hotspur. Naturally enough he went for Harry – but it was his surname, Percy, which the question required. Chalk up starter six to Jason Golfinos. The Ghaznavids provided another full house. With the score at 125 to 10 the vultures were beginning to circle above the SOAS team. Their predicament was thrown into sharp relief by the way that Jason Golfinos so speedily took his seventh starter, knowing “Have you no decency, Sir?” was likely to require the answer Joseph McCarthy. Two more bonuses took Darwin further away from SOAS, and brought up the music starter. Asked for the name of the band leader whose orchestra we were listening to, I’d say it took the superb Mr. Golfinos less than a second to buzz in with Benny Goodman. That’s 8 before the 20 minute mark. 2 more band leaders were identified for bonuses. Then as if things couldn’t get any worse for SOAS, they did, as JP administered the kiss of death by telling them that there was still plenty of time for them to get going. Smile when you say that, Jeremy. I’ll be honest, I was not conversant with the word hacktivist, and neither were the teams. Starter 9 for Jason Golfinos involved identifying the French composer Lully. The US film director Julie Taymor – who is neither Kaerine Bigelow nor Sofia Coppola – yielded just the one bonus. I guessed Titus Andronicus – which play gratifyingly proves that as well as being a genius, Shakespeare did actually write some crap in his early days. Jason Golfinos was first to buzz for the next starter, but it didn’t put him into double figures. After hearing The Sea of Tranquility he buzzed in with the Moon, but you could see in his body language and hear in his voice it suddenly dawned on him - hang on, that’s too flippin’ easy for UC. Quite right too. Given the full question, Chad Beaman knew that this and the other location were where Apollos 11 and 12 landed. They took two bonuses on achievements in mathematics. Inevitably Jason Golfinos ended that brief show of resistance, knowing that if the question wants the name of a palace, and it’s to do with the doings of the roman Catholic Church, Lateran will always put you in with a shout. Chris Morris provided – well, yes, two correct answers. Chad Beamon, very ill favoured by the starter gods on this show, heard the words ‘La Perouse Strait’ and correctly placed it between Sakhalin Island and Hokkaido. Unfortunately the question wanted much less specific information than that. After he was deducted 5 points he had the chastening experience of seeing Stuart McPherson answer that it separated Russia from Japan. Sometimes it just really isn’t your night. It was a seemingly inevitable consequence that Darwn would go on to take a full house on lesser known languages of Europe. At the 20 minute mark the score was 220 – 25, and only two questions remained. How close could SOAS possibly come to triple figures, and just how high a score were Darwin going to finish with?

For the second picture starter both teams sat on their buzzers and stared at a still from a Disney film. Eventually Harriet Gemmill dredged up The Princess and the Frog. Three more recent hand drawn films from other studios brought them ten points. Right – you hear the words ‘biblical figure’ and ‘John Milton’ and you go for your buzzer and answer Samson, as in Agonistes. Both teams waited, and then it was Harriet Gemmill who was fastest on the draw. Ancient seaports provided a quick full house, and SOAS’ score had tripled in a mere couple of minutes. They could have had the next starter, bearing in mind that the gland that secretes substances which control the level of glucose in the bloodstream is clearly the pancreas, but though Tom Pollitt won the buzzer race, he gave the wrong answer. Cue starter 11 for Jason Golfinos. British birds with names of three or four letters gave them the usual – ten points. After a relatively quiet few minutes the irrepressible Darwin skipper took a flier with the next starter, very quickly identifying the abbreviation S to N as standing for Signal to Noise. Sisters in Dickens novels provided nowt – highlighting literature as a possible area of weakness – for future reference. Wolframite is one of those ores which gets asked in quizzes from time to time, but by the time I had shouted out Tungsten and set off on my lap of honour, so had Chad Beaman. Well, he hadn’t set off on a lap of honour, but you know what I mean. One bonus on astronomy put SOAS back tantalisingly close to the 100 point barrier. Chad Beaman, asked for the port mentioned by Churchill in his Iron Curtain speech, came in too early and zigged with Gdansk. Just one of those things. This allowed Jason Golfinos to take his twelfth starter with Stettin. Perpetual trophies in test Cricket were gettable, but they managed just the one. For the next starter Stuart McPerson lost five with an early buzz. The answer had to be ultraviolet – yes, a second lap of honour there, and it allowed Chad Beaman to take his team to 85. Full house and they’d be on triple figures. They took the first, but then tempus fugot and the contest was gonged, stranding them on 90. The final score was 260 to 90.

Right then, a few observations. For me, Jason Golfinos’ 13 starters is a Hall of Fame performance. But how good actually were Darwin? It’s difficult to say. Although the scoreline suggests another mismatch like last year’s first round, it didn’t quite feel like that. SOAS clearly knew stuff when they earned some bonuses. Darwin’s very marked superiority was on the buzzer, and that was almost entirely due to their skipper. In fact I think that only one other correct starter came from the whole of the rest of the Darwin team. There’s no doubt that Darwin are contenders after that showing – however given their superiority on the buzzer, you might have expected them to end up closer to 300. Well, first round form is unreliable, but I think it’s fair to say that Darwin will certainly be a team to watch. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

He started early in this show. Alluding to Mel C’s observation that, if Oasis were bigger than God “what does that make us? Bigger than Buddha?” he added ‘Stupid thing to say.’ In a way I do know where he was coming from, but come on Jez, we don’t use the S word. 
Then, for the picture bonuses, Jason Golfinos offered up a sensible enough translation of the 2nd phrase, to which JP replied sniffily “You’re just thinking aloud.” Jez, that’s NOT an insult! If you don’t know the answer, you’re supposed to use your brains to try to work it out. To be fair he did say well done when they got the last one – even though it was probably the easiest of the three. Guilt, methinks.
When Darwin achieved their full house on video games, he reacted somewhat indignantly with “What do you spend your time doing?!” Oh Jez, welcome back! I’ve missed you.
When Harriet Quimby did take what was only SOAS’ third starter on the Disney still, he jovially observed ‘Points are points wherever they come from.’ Nice application of salt to fresh wounds there.
Time was when JP would have told a team who’d scored less than 100 that they hadn’t done very well. Now, he contented himself by damning SOAS with faint praise – “You’re a nice team”. Nice try Jez. 

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

A person who specifically to further social or political ends tries to gain unauthorised access to computer files or networks can be called a hacktivist.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Yeah, definitely a Hall of Fame performance from Mr Golfinos; his tally equals Alex Guttenplan's in the 2009-10 final, and is bettered only by Gail Trimble's 15 the previous series. As you say, though, it does raise questions about whether the others can pick up the slack if needed, but, still, they're one to watch next round.

SOAS would've beaten another team for sure; unlucky to them, Mr Beaman especially who acquitted himself well. 11/17 bonuses nothing to be ashamed of either. Darwin managed 26/42.