Friday, 30 November 2018

University Challenge 2019 - round two - Hertford, Oxford v. Manchester

Hertford, Oxford v. Manchester

Well, dearly beloved, last week we watched the first of our repechage winners go on to claim a spot in the quarter final stages. Aiming to do the same in Monday’s match were Hertford, Oxford, represented by Steffi Woodgate, Pat Taylor, Chris Page and skipper Richard Tudor. To do that, though, they would have to defeat Manchester, whose team of Alex Antao, Georgia Lynott, Joe Hanson and skipper James Ross won a close contest against East London in the first round.

Both teams rather sat on their buzzer for the first starter, which was gettable from the first clue. Even if you didn’t know, you could surely have guessed that the French version of The Office had the word Bureau in it. Richard Tudor finally took that piece of low hanging fruit. Unbuilt cities provided particularly fertile ground, yielding them a full house. Now, I didn’t know that the last word of the quotation – Half of Science is putting forward the right – would be -questions, but it seemed obvious that this would be the answer, which indeed it was. After a bit of an interval Chris Page lobbed the same word in to earn a set of bonuses on books of the Old Testament referring to the King James Bible. These, it must be said were by no means gimmes, and Hertford failed to trouble the scorer. Kati Horna, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington were all ex pat surrealists who made Mexico City their home. I didn’t know that but Joe Hanson did, to open Manchester’s account for the evening. Pairs of letter – used for both a chemical element and an American state postal abbreviation – provided a lovely UC special set of which they took a full house. The splendidly named Fred Whipple – who surely missed his metier and should have been an ice cream salesman rather than an astronomer -  hypothesized about the make up of the nucleus of a comet. Chris Page edged out Joe Hanson in the buzzer race to win that starter and win bonuses on shades of green. They took two correct answers, but didn’t know chartreuse. So to the picture starter, and an interesting world map in which the size of each country was directly proportional to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity generated from a major fuel source. The teams had to deduce the fuel source. From the relative hugeness of the UK I guessed coal, but neither of the teams saw it. James Ross was very quickly in to confirm that “To A Wild Rose” was a piano piece composed by Macdowall – although he didn’t say whether this was Roddy or Andi. This earned the picture bonuses, more strangely distorted fuel maps. 2 bonuses meant that, although it appeared that Hertford had had the better of the opening exchanges in the first ten minutes only 10 points separated the teams, with Hertford leading by 55 – 45.

Okay. Did you know the acronym MOGREPS? Me neither, and nor did the teams, so none of us knew that the E stands for ensemble forecasting. Moving swiftly on, for the next starter I did know that Sir Harrison Birtwhistle composed the opera Punch and Judy, which linked nicely with Harrison Schmitt, one of the last 2 astronauts to walk on the moon. I gave myself a pat on the back for guessing that the next clue would relate to Harrison Ford – and indeed this was the clue which gave Chris Page the answer. Sadly he had a rush of blood to the head and gave the surname – “Ford”, then realised what he’d done and corrected himself – “Harrison”. He still lost 5, and then JP passed it over. I’ll be honest, I’ve seen times when similar things have happened and JP has administered a severe wigging, but not passed it over. For what it’s worth, I think passing it over was the right thing to do in this case. It was bad luck, and these things can happen in the heat of the moment, but Manchester were entitled to their crack and the bonuses that ensued. James Ross tapped that one into the hole, and Queens of France provided them with one correct answer and me with a full house. Well, I do have Huguenot ancestors, you know. I also have a far-from-Francophile sister in law – whom I love dearly - who was horrified when I let her know that particular aspect of her husband’s genetic makeup, but I digress. Nobody knew about Sikkim, which apparently gets its name from a command used by dog handlers. Nobody knew that typhus, caused by the Rickettsia bacteria, is also known as Jail Disease. Chris Page was the first to buzz in to identify John Montagu as the Earl of Sandwich. (Insert your own jokes here) Elements of the names of Chinese capitals gave me an unexpected bonus – I knew that Nanking means Southern capital, so got Nan for the first. Didn’t have a scooby about the others, though. Neither did Hertford, with both of us getting just the first. None of us knew the term contact inhibition – although I’ve experienced what could certainly be described as contact prohibition a few times in the past. Alex Antao was the first to recognise a series of clues indicating the letters B and R for the next starter. Chemical stuff provided Manchester with a full house. This brought us to the music starter, and nobody recognised the work of Stravinsky. Not surprised – what we heard sounded far too musical for Stravinsky. Miaow. Georgia Lynott buzzed too early for the next starter, allowing Richard Tudor to supply the correct answer – that Stilwell’s nickname was Vinegar Joe, as opposed to other condiments. This gave Hertford a shy at the music bonuses. More composers brought the one bonus needed to level the scores. Nobody knew that the first proper name in Paradise Lost is the location The Garden of Eden. Good question – I was wrong. I went for Pandemonium. Did you know that nasturtium takes its name from the latin for nose twister? None of us did, but it’s a blooming good question, should you pardon the pun, and I’m going to be asking that one in the rugby club next time I’m QM. Right, I don’t pretend to understand the next Maths starter, but the answer was 168, which neither team had. Alex Antao knew that if the question is about ancient religion and Iran, then it’s Zoroastrianism. Bonuses on immortality in Shakespeare’s tragedies brought two bonuses, and a lead of 20 points – 100 – 80, as we reached the twenty minute mark in what was an absorbing and closely matched contest up to this point.

A terrific captain’s early buzz from James Ross identified Prasutagus as the husband of Boudicca. Scales and measures brought another two correct answers, and it was vital for Hertford that they took the next starter, since the gap was widening at precisely the time they needed it to be narrowing. However this was the picture starter and it was Alex Antao who identified the work of Goya. Only one bonus accrued, but the momentum was with Manchester. Chris Page pulled Hertford back from the brink, recognising the planned trilogy, the Book of Dust. Bonuses on literature earned a further ten points to reduce arrears to 35. The impressive Chris Page pulled a further 10 points back, knowing that if the question asks about watchmaker John Harrison, you’ll never be far away with the word longitude. The British exploration of Africa. helped narrow the gap further. Manchester, though, were also holding their collective nerve. Alex Antao took the next starter on various verse forms in Japanese poetry. Roman provinces helped them reestablish a 30 point lead. That’s crucial. It meant that Hertford couldn’t draw level with just one visit to the table. Alex Antao again displayed a finely tuned buzzing finger winning the buzzer race to identify Herr Messerchmidt ( Willy? I think so.) as the designer of the BF109. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland provided one bonus, but that was rather immaterial. There just couldn’t be enough time left for Hertford now. Neither team managed the next starter, but it was that man Antao who took the next, working out that since Rosario is a prominent city in Argentina, then Operation Rosario may well have taken place during the Falklands Conflict. African cities provided Manchester with a lightning fast full house. We were gonged seconds later with the score at 185 – 115. It looks like a comfortable victory for  Manchester, yet they were pushed all the way by this good Hertford team, and on this showing look like useful dark horses in the quarters. Well done both teams, and best of luck to Manchester.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

After the very first starter JP chided the Hertford skipper with “Some people find that question difficult, you know. There’s no need to look so dismissive.” Jez – have you ever looked in a mirror after a team fails to get a question on Shakespeare right? Physician, heal thyself, that’s all I’m saying.

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

Typhus is also known as jail fever.


Jack said...

Good game, two well matched sides, ultimately decided narrowly on the buzzer. Three extra starters won the game for Manchester, plus a tad better bonus rate, 18/30 to Hertford's 10/21. No shame in Hertford going out on that performance though. This Manchester team may lack the imperiousness that previous Manchester teams had, but still a useful team, worth keeping an eye on.

On Monday, Edinburgh return; don't know who against yet, but I shall try to find out.

Aethelstan said...

Not really much to comment on from this match, but I remember being surprised by the number of baulked starters. It picked up for me in the last few minutes. Manchester are decent enough but their ability to get further will depend very strongly on who they draw in the quarters. I certainly was bowled over last monday, no disrepect intended to either team; I will admit I'd fancied Hertford for that match!

If the response to your tweet re: mondays match is accurate Jack, I'd probably say advantage Edinburgh