Saturday, 24 November 2018

University Challenge 2019 - Round Two - St. Peter's, Oxford v. Emmanuel, Cambridge

Chins up, dearly beloved, it’s the start of the second round proper. St. Peter’s, Oxford, in the shape of James Hodgson, Seb Braddock, Laura Cooper and captain Nick Williford, he of the splendid handlebar moustache, saw off one Cambridge team in the first round in the shape of Pembroke. More Cambridge opponents came in the shape of battle-hardened Emmanuel, for whom Connor Macdonald, Vedanth Nair, Ben Harris and skipper Daniella Cugini narrowly lost to Glasgow in round one, before comfortably beating King’s London in the repechage.

Okay, the first starter. Any question which mentions Ireland and geological formation is pretty much suggesting Giant’s Causeway right from the off, but neither team took a real flyer, until Connor Macdonald buzzed in with e right answer. The French town of Valenciennes didn’t look particularly fertile ground for a full house, but that’s exactly what it yielded. Laura Cooper’s sharp buzzing in the first round heat was a huge advantage for St. Peter’s, but she was in too soon for the next starter, misindentifying the poet in question as Thomas Hardy. The English specialists really should have got it for ‘dapple down dawn.’ Dapple is like a huge signpost saying Gerard Manley Hokins – Glory be to God for Dappled Things etc. I earned my lap of honour early in this show, for I knew that a cell converts chemical to electrical energy. So did James Hodgson. The Scriblerians yielded just the one correct answer. Laura Cooper’s twitchy buzzer finger struck again and saw her lose 5 points for the next starter, which mammal description wanted the answer tapir. Emmanuel couldn’t capitalise. For the second time in the show I was underwhelmed by the English specialists – nobody in either team had any idea that Confessio Amantis was written by John Gower. Vedanth Nair stopped the rot, knowing the term camel case, which I certainly didn’t. Bonuses on WHO lists of essential medicines brought one bonus, and led ont o the picture starter. This spliced together the opening lines of two sonnets. I recognised Anthem for Doomed youth by Wilfred Owen, and guessed the other would be by Siegfried Sassoon. I’m sure that Daniele Cugini recognised the Wilfred Owen lines, but she zigged with Rupert Brooke, allowing Laura Cooper to zag with Sassoon. More of the same brought a correct answer to St. Peters. I had that one and also the Milton and Donne, but didn’t have a Scooby about Rosetti and Barrett-Browning. This was a timely set for St. Peter’s though, since it at least gave them a toehold in the match, and they trailed Emmanuel by 40 – 20.

Credit where it’s due, there was a terrific fast buzz by Daniela Cugini to identify element 100 as being named after Fermi. The year 1991 in feminism didn’t provide much for the team, just the one bonus. Nick Williford made an equally impressive early buzz to identify words attributed to French King Louis XIV. Misreadings and mispronunciations gave rise to some amusement when it mentioned the Indian newsreader who rendered Chinese leader Xi Ji Ping’s name as Eleven Ji Ping. Reminds me of a Sunday league quiz in Cardiff once. When asked which king of England was crowned King of both England and France when only a babe in arms we answered Henry VI. Nope said the question master. The home team answered Henry IV. Nope, replied the poor hapless individual – you’re both wrong. It says Henry Vie here. – St. Peter’s took one bonus, but really and truly one of them should have known that the Hundred Years war began in the reign of Edward III, I would have thought. Vedanth Nair was again in early to identify the Dravidian language family. German Grand Duchies provided Emma with a timely full house, and led us nicely into the music round. The first to buzz in to identify the cat singing scat was Cameron Macdonald, who didn’t mistake the unmistakable voice of Louis Armstrong. 3 more examples of scat singing were always going to include Ella Fitzgerald, but like Emma I didn’t have a clue about the second. I recognised Sammy Davis Jr, though.  I didn’t even understand the next question, but Laura Cooper knew the answer was DNA. The architect David Adjaye brought another bonus. St. Peters were hanging on there in the match, but really needed to up their bonus conversion rate if they were going to have a hope of pegging back what already looked like a significant lead for Emmanuel. Vedanth Nair, having another good match on the buzzer, knew that the Titulus Regius was the instrument used by king Richard III to give a veneer of legality to his usurpation of the throne. Astrophysics promised me but little and delivered less, although Emmanuel did pick up a single bonus themselves. The St. Peter’s skipper was impressively quick on the buzzer again to identify Wellington – the city, not the footwear, duke, or educational establishment – as soon as a reasonable clue had been given. Dorothy Coade Hewitt – Dorothy Who? in LAM Towers – provided them with nowt. They really were not getting the rub of the green at all in their bonus sets. Now, whenever the question mentions the Ismaili sect, just buzz and say Aga Khan. That’s what Cameron Macdonald did. 2 bonuses on works published by past or future prime ministers pushed their score to 125 against St. Peter’s 60 at the 20 minute mark. Not quite over the event horizon, but not far off.

Good old astronomy gave me a Science starter, as both Ben Harris and I knew that the planet with 4 large moons (and a shedload of wee ones) is always going to be Jupiter. Chemistry didn’t look likely to offer me much and indeed there was never much chance of me earning a further lap of honour here. Emmanuel, though managed a full house. For the second picture starter Nick Williford won the buzzer race to identify Sir Roger Bannister. More athletes photographed making sporting history brought two correct answers. Didn’t phase Emmanuel though. Cameron Macdonald took a real flyer on the next starter, identifying Nietzsche very quickly. Bonuses on foreign language film Oscar winners promised none of us very much but Emmanuel did manage a single bonus. That man Nair knew something about pi which earned the next set of bonuses on literary works using reverse chronology took their score to 175, and the game was up for St. Peter’s. Nobody knew the next starter about the River Clyde. To be fair to St. Peter’s they didn’t just give up, and Laura Cooper was the first in to identify the novel Last Exit to Brooklyn. A bonus on Asian dog breeds took them to 95. Now, I’ve never heard of the mirror test, but I guessed it from the terms of the question. Daniela Cugini took that starter for Emmanuel. A full house on dystopian novels took Emmanuel to 200. None of us knew the opening words to Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Ben Harris lost 5 when he came in too early for the next starter, while Nick Williford, who had been playing a captain’s innings all evening, came in to give the correct answer of Afghanistan to take his team into triple figures. A full house on national flags was too late, but at least they got one. That was it, though. The contest was gonged halfway through the next starter, and Emmanuel had won by 195 to 120. JP couldn’t quite resist rubbing a little salt into the Oxford team’s wounds by telling them that they never really had a chance to get into their stride. Cobblers. They had their chance, but just couldn’t convert enough bonuses to compete. It happens.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Little to report here. There was a mild case of apoplexy when Emma suggested Sammy Davis Jr may in fact have been Miles Davis, but really there was nothing more of note. Must try harder, Jez.

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

Camel case is the correct term for the use of upper case letters in the middle of a string of lower case letters, particularly in proprietary or commercial names.


Jack said...

Yeah, it was a game won on the bonuses as much as the buzzer, Emmanuel answering three starters more, plus a better rate of 18/33, compared to St Peter's 10/24. Still a respectable effort from them, unlucky to be going out this soon. Emmanuel, though, are worthy quarter-finalists.

No idea who's playing this week yet, but I will make inquiries.

Stephen Follows said...

I think you mean 195 to 120...

Londinius said...


Aethelstan said...

It was a shame in my view to have two of the better teams paired up so early in the contest. That said, a deserved win for Emma who are clearly a well oiled machine of military grade quizzing, as you might expect given their heritage. Hopefully Captain Cugini will not disappoint. I'm sorry we won't get to see more of Cooper, apparently custodian of college turtle Aristurtle! Her captain would have done better to listen to her more.

Unknown said...

Great review, thank you! (This is Dani off the Emma team). I agree we cocked up the literature a bit - completely blanked on Manley Hopkins, and while I could talk your ear off about Piers Plowman, Gawain-romance, Boethius and Chaucer, I'd never heard of Gower's Confessio.

You're right that Peter's weren't getting the rub on their bonuses; I honestly think the bonuses skewed too hard this match, there were a couple of bonus sets (particularly on Peter's side) which were entirely ungettable.

Londinius said...

Hi Dani, and thank you for taking the time and trouble to leave a review. I wasn't trying to be harsh on Gower - but could be accused of showing off a bit because Eng Lit was my subject decades ago, and it was medieval literature I was most interested in. I didn't have to study Gower as part of the Chaucer and contemporaries component, but read Confessio Amantis as part of my reading around the course. Gower, who is buried in a splendid tomb in Southwark Cathedral, was actually a good mate of Chaucer's. The Confessio Amantis is a collection of tales, a la Canterbury Tales and the Decameron.

Congratulations on your own and your team's performances so far, and I wish you the best of retrospective luck in the quarters.