Friday, 21 September 2018

University Challenge 2019 Round One Heat 9 - Bristol v. Queen's, Belfast

Bristol v. Queen’s, Belfast

Heat 9 already, dearly beloved, can you believe it? Well, probably yes, come to think of it. So, last Monday’s heat pitted Bristol against Queen’s Belfast. Bristol’s team were George Sumner, Owen Iredale, Pushpam Basu and captain Anne Le Maistre. Queen’s team were Matthew Hooton, Ria McQuillan, James Breen and skipper Stephanie Merritt. So much for the formalities, and let battle commence.

James Breen took first blood, knowing that rum is in a Dark and Stormy cocktail. (It was a dark and stormy cocktail – hmm, works rather better, methinks.) Writers buried in Highgate Cemetery weren’t exactly gimmes, but I did think that Queen’s might have done better than just the one bonus. The only undisputed fact is that he died at Pontefract is a rather lovely way of describing Richard II, and this was recognised by Matthew Hooton. Nobel prizes for Chemistry offered me but little, but I’m sorry, you ask me for hollow carbon molecules named after a US architect and I’ll give you buckminsterfullerenes every day of the week. And I’ll take a lap of honour for it. I was halfway round when I answered carbon dating for the next one as well, but limited myself to the single lap. For the next starter exoplanets in the constellation of Pegasus did for my chances, but Matthew Hooton was perfectly happy to take his double. Textile artists bonuses saw James Breen ask his team, in my favourite bit of interplay of the whole contest , “Who’s your boy who sawed the cow in half?” – by which he was referring to my fellow Goldsmiths alumnus Damien Hirst.The answer wasn’t him, though. I have to say it, this Queen’s University team did like to chew over their answers at length – albeit rather entertainingly. Ten years ago JP would have already been at the OH COME OONNNNNNNN! stage with them by now. They didn’t add to their score. So to the picture set and a clever UC special. What we saw was a French phrase, describing a French compound noun that has been assimilated into English. My A Level French (not quite failed, but frankly pushing my luck) was good enough to tell me that the compound noun was faux pas. This allowed Owen Iredale to put Bristol’s team into credit. More of the same provided 2 bonuses. Pushpam Basu recognised a description of Ginsberg’s “Howl”, to earn bonuses on pairs of words differing by a single letter. Bristol themselves took their time chewing over the bones of each pair, but this at least helped them convert two of them into points. Thus, a little after the ten minute mark the score stood at 50 – 40 to Queen’s.

A UC special which involved using the symbols of a range of SI units yielded Matthew Hooton the word scam. Bonuses on New Atheism yielded them a brace of bonuses. A description of Hannah Arendt was recognised by Pushpam Basu, and Bristol earned bonuses on biological classification. A couple of correct answers reduced the gap to 10 again, and brought us to the music starter. This borrowed the ‘Name the Year’ question from Ken Bruce’s Pop Masters quiz on Radio 2. We were played several singles and asked to name the year, with the proviso that the teams were actually allowed to be 'one year out'. No promise of t shirts if they were, though.We heard a brief snatch of “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats from 1983 when Owen Iredale buzzed in with a good enough 1982. Three more sets of singles followed, with the clue being that all 3 years were actually prime numbers. Only one yielded a bonus, but it did mean that Bristol had taken a slender lead for the first time in the contest. A rush of blood to the head saw Pushpam Basu come in too early, and offer Shelley as the name of the poet to whose memory Keats dedicated ‘Endymion’, and the teams were all squared again. Queen’s though could not capitalise by dragging up the name of Thomas Chatterton – or – ‘the whelp’ as the notoriously peppery Samuel Johnson called him. Now, if you’re asked for a country whose independence was proclaimed by the heir to the Portuguese throne, Brazil is always going to be a good shout, and it was a shout made by Owen Iredale, whose efforts on the buzzer were really starting to bear fruit for his team. The American painter, John Singleton Copley (you remember him? He’s called John Singleton Who? in LAM Towers) brought a good 2 bonuses. It was Owen Iredale too who took the next starter. When asked which of Shakespeare’s plays was based on Robert Green’s “Pandosto”, both teams sat on the buzzer until he scored with a long range punt on A Winter’s Tale. (Not apparently based on the David Essex single, then.) Welsh History brought another couple of bonuses, so, at the 20 minute mark, Bristol had forged what was starting to look like a healthy lead, with 110 to Queen’s Belfast’s 70.

This was a lead which was immediately reduced by James Breen, who was first to buzz in for the second picture starter, a still from the Money Supermarket Advert with the Sindy Dolls – (Or Thelma and Louise as it was called in the cinema.)Three subsequent films for which women won the Oscar as sole credited screenwriter saw them take 2 bonuses, but miss out on a full house by missing out on “The Piano”. You had to feel for them. “What was the name of the one with the piano?” they asked each other, before plumping for The Pianist. Hard lines. Never mind. The fight back continued as Matthew Hooton identified some Physics gobbledygook as Newton’s Constant. Amazingly, I knew one of the questions on Fundamental theories, while Queen’s managed two. Asked for the two main families of monotremes, that was always going to be a buzzer race, and Owen Iredale was always going to win it, to offer Echidnas and Platypus. Bristol didn't have much of an appetite for the bonuses on apatite, and took just the one. Pushpam Basu showed a fast buzzer finger when he buzzed in with the title “The White Tiger” immediately after the name Aravind Adiga. Bristol failed to capitalise by not being able to answer any of a set on battles. Now, Which SI derived unit, equivalent to one ampere in one second is named after which French scientist, the teams were asked. The heat of battle can do funny things to you, which saw George Sumner buzz in early with ampere, even though it was in the question. Any embarrassment though must have been forgotten as James Breen buzzed in with Voltaire. Look, he must have been thinking about Volta, but JP was never going to let that one pass. Now, I didn’t know that the great Indian writer Kalidasa wrote in Sanskrit, but I guessed, and this was confirmed correct when Pushpam Basu buzzed in with the same answer. That for me confirmed Bristol’s win, as the sands of time had almost all reached the bottom of the hourglass. We only had time for one bonus on towers before the gong confirmed that Bristol had won, by 140 to 110.

Hold a gun to my head and demand my honest opinion, and I’ll tell you that this was not a contest of the highest quality, with only the buzzing of Owen Iredale catching the eye at all. But it was enjoyable and entertaining, and I thank both teams for that.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Jez was in rather a jolly mood all evening, so it seemed. I’ve already observed how patient he was with both teams’ dwelling on their answers. Then, with the music bonuses, when Bristol offered 1971 rather than 1973 he replied that this wasn’t a prime number, then veritably chuckled as he added ‘Imagine not knowing!’ What a tease! This jocularity was shown again when Matthew Hooton offered Tennyson for the Chatterton bonus. Normally JP hates it when teams are a bit out on English Literature. This time the tone in his voice, “Tennyson!” was clearly mock indignation, and he was grinning all over his phizzog. Even with the Voltaire answer he grinned as he incredulously repeated “Voltaire!” Positively avuncular, Jez.

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

Thelma and Louise was the first film for which a woman received the Oscar for solo credited screenwriter.


Jack said...

A low scoring game, but an entertaining one between two pleasant teams. Bristol narrowly won it on the buzzer, with three extra starters, with the teams being more of less equal on the buzzers, Bristol managing 12/15 (with two penalties) and Queen's 10/18.

On Monday, Dave, your lot at Goldsmiths will play the first international team to appear on the show, the University of London Institute in Paris. The week after, an Oxbridge derby, St Peter's of Oxford vs Pembroke of Cambridge.

Aethelstan said...

Agree with Jack, teams seemed very pleasent. Otherwise nothing particularly noteworthy. Yes, the old Paxo seemed very congenial.

I am very interested in this weeks match. I'll admit I had to look up the Paris Institute. It looks like it offers a very specific range of courses therefore I will be interesed to see what performance they turn in. Let's see. Did some of the Irish universities appear in the Gascoigne era? A shame they don't send teams actually, I'm willing to bet several could put together a good team..