Saturday, 22 December 2018

University Challenge 2019: Clare, Cambridge v. St. Edmund Hall, Oxford

Right then. Monday 10th saw Clare, Cambridge take on St. Edmund’s Hall, Oxford. Clare were represented by Anish Naik, Matt Nixon, Elijah Granet and captain Andrew Gurr, while Teddy Hall’s team comprised of Agastya Pisharody, Marceline Bresson, Lizzy Fry and captain Freddy Leo. Let’s get on with it.

Matt Nixon did. He buzzed early to take the first starter on various meanings of the word charge. Sociology bonuses brought a brace of correct answers.Alice Guy Blache (altogether now, also known as Alice Who-Who? in LAM Towers) was a pioneer in the field of cinema. I didn’t know that but Marceline Bresson did to open Teddy Hall’s account. The 19th century engineer, John Scott Russell, brought just the one bonus. Now, with the next starter, which mentioned the author of “I have No Mouth And I Must Scream” Elijah Granet took a flyer, and gave the surname – Ellison. Hard lines, for the question wanted the first name – Harlan – as in Saunders, the famous fried chicken purveyor. Nobody had that. Fair play, Elijah Granet wasn’t phased by this, since he buzzed very early to provide the correct answer of tardigrades for the next starter. Never heard of ‘em. 16th century royalty provided just one bonus. Fair play to Marceline Bresson as well, she was in very quickly to identify ‘rhapsody’ as being the musical term derived from an ancient Greek term for someone who recites epic poetry. The ornithology bonuses this earned seemed gettable, but yielded just the one bonus. So to the picture starter. We were shown a map with a strait indicated by an arrow. At last the Oxford skipper managed to find a way into the contest, as he buzzed very quickly to identify the Strait of Otranto. More straits provided one bonus. Suitably galvanised, Freddy Leo buzzed in very early for the next starter to correctly identify Louis IX. World events and the Summer Olympics provided another bonus. So at the 10 minute mark, St. Edmund’s Hall led by 60 to 30, but neither team so far was setting the world alight with their bonus conversion rate.

There was something about Shrodinger in the next question. Gawd knows what it meant, but Agastya Pisharody knew the answer was psi. Ancient Greek philosophy brought both of us 2 correct answers. Works linked by the city of New Orleans gave Freddy Leo his third starter. Computing in the 1990s brought a further two bonuses, and Teddy Hall were stretching the gap between the teams in a way which looked ominous for Clare. The impressive Oxford skipper well and truly had the bit between his teeth by now, and took another starter, knowing that a chap with the unfortunate name of Munter was one of the founders of the Blue Rider. Quotations about sailing in a sieve did his team no favours, and they didn’t add to their score. This brought us to the music starter. None of us recognised the work of Sibelius. That man Leo was back in for the next starter, to which the answer was the Eustachian tubes – which was one of the rejected names for the London Crossrail project, so I believe. This earned the music bonus on pieces premiered at the triennial Birmingham music festival in years gone by. They took two bonuses, and the third was on the table, as it were, but rejected. St. Edmund’s Hall now led by 100 points, and at this stage I began to feel that the dreaded Paxman words of encouragement would be offered to Clare at any moment. Freddy Leo continued piling Pelion on top of Ossa for them, as he zoomed in to recognise the first words of “Not Waving But Drowning”. This enabled the Oxford side to take two bonuses on Jane Fonda. Now, if you get asked the name of a Soviet filmmaker, 90% of the time it boils down to Eisenstein, if it’s early, or Tarkovsky if it’s later. Who else but Freddy Leo buzzed in early to the next starter with Tarkovsky. Two bonuses on former Chinese capitals took their score to 170 to Clare’s 30 at the 20 minute mark. This meant that Clare had been shut out for the whole of the second 10 minutes, during which time St. Edmund’s Hall had scored 110 unanswered points.

“Irredentism!” said Freddy Leo. Gesundheit, I replied, but it was the right answer, whatever it meant. One bonus on CLR James followed. With the picture starter at last Clare managed to win a buzzer race, as Elijah Granet was first in to recognise a photograph of Al Gore. A lovely bonus set on presidential candidates who failed to win a majority of the popular vote, but won enough votes from the electoral college in the US to become president followed. Two bonuses were taken. Now, I’m very sorry, but whenever a chemistry question asks for a word beginning with V I always say Valence. So did the Cambridge skipper – and we were both right! So what was looking like a lap of honourless week was thus transformed. While I was chugging my way around the sofa, Clare threw away two very gettable answers on graphic novels. I doubt it would have made any much difference to the result, to be honest with you. I had the next starter, knowing that there are 12 letters in the German equivalent names of Cologne, Geneva and Vienna. So did Agastya Pisharody. Elements of the Periodic table gave me a full house, and had I not been exhausted from my previous lap I might have taken another. Teddy Hall managed a couple. Lizzie Fry correctly guessed that the first recorded visit to the Galapagos Islands was made by the Bishop of Panama in 1535 when he was blown off course while sailing to Peru. This brought up a set on music in the 1730s. Two bonuses fattened their score further, as we lumbered towards the gong. Now, I’ve often said that you’ll get a number of the maths questions on UC right by answering zero to them without actually understanding the question. So I did so on the next and got it right. To be fair to Anish Naik (from Ealing! Yay!) he actually understood the question, but mine still counts, even though I didn’t. Authors with three letter surnames gave Clare a full house and a good chance of getting into three figures before the end of the contest. There are 6 atoms in a molecule of sodium bicarbonate. Fancy that. Nobody knew so lets move on. Andrew Gurr showed a nifty buzzer finger to identify the White horse of Uffington for the next starter. This took them to 100 points, which became 110 with a couple of correct identifications of Egyptian deities. Sadly 5 of this was lost when Elijah Granet buzzed too early for the next. This left Marceline Bresson to correctly identify the US State of Colorado. Now, when JP announced that the bonuses were on given names created by authors I was certainly that JM Barrie’s Wendy would be one of them. It wasn’t, actually! The next starter asked for the cartoonist who depicted Napoleon and Pitt the Toddler carving up the plum pudding of the world between them. Any question about cartoons from the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries is likely to be about James Gillray, and not, as Andrew Gurr rather ungallantly suggested, Deborah Meaden. Yes, of course I know he was joking. There was no way of following that, save with the gong. Teddy Hall had completed a comfortable win by the margin of 245 to 105.

Hard lines, Clare. As for St. Edmund Hall, well, when you have an exceptional buzzer like Freddy Leo you are always going to be a team to watch, so you never know just how far hey might go.

Jeremy Paxman Watch


Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know of the Week

The first recorded visit to the Galapagos Islands was made by the Bishop of Panama in 1535 when he was blown off course while sailing to Peru.

1 comment:

Jack said...

A game won by Mr Leo's mid match run of six starters in a row, eight overall, taking his series total to 17 already! Unlucky Clare to come up against that, but they deserved to reach three figures ultimately and took it in good humour. Good bonus work from them too, 11/18, with St Edmund Hall managing 21/42.