Friday, 7 December 2018

University Challenge 2019 Round 2 - Edinburgh v. UCL

Edinburgh v. UCL

Another second round match, dearly beloved. Last time out we saw Matt Booth, Marco Malusa, and Robbie Campbell Hewson and their captain Max Fitz-James of Edinburgh administer the UC equivalent of 6 of the best to an outgunned Sidney Sussex team in round one. In this show they faced sterner opposition in the shape of George Mitkov, Sophia Walker, Feiyu Fang and captain Robert Johnstone of UCL, who had won an absorbing contest against King’s, London in round one.

I knew that Jerome K. Jerome said he could watch work for hours, but both teams needed the full set of clues before Robert Johnstone supplied the correct answer. Terms and phrases provided a gettable set, and UCL should have done better than just the one. Mind you, Feiyu Fang made up for this with a splendidly fast buzz to identify the Stamp Act for the next starter. This brought bonuses on fruits in poetry which proved far more fruitful for them, yielding the first full house of the evening. Sophia Walker continued UCL’s impressive start on the buzzer by recognising a series of works linked by the word castle for the next starter. Bonuses on the ancient cartographer and astronomer Claudius Ptolemy provided nowt for any of us. Neither of the teams knew or could guess the Roman goddess Concordia, the goddess of defunct supersonic airliners. Max Fitz-James put his team into negative equity with an incorrect early buzz for the next starter. I don’t blame him. Had he been correct and thus opened his team’s account it would have been inspired. This allowed George Mitkov to take UCL’s 4th unanswered starter. With a couple of bonuses that took their total to 70. This meant that we’d seen a genuine UC rarity, a shut out for the first ten minutes, since Edinburgh, languishing on -5 had not yet given a correct answer.

This situation was soon remedied. Marco Malusa did brilliantly to see a word cloud of the most regularly recurring words in a famous work of philosophy, and ascribe it to Descartes. More of the same provided a well-earned full house. Robert Johnstone knew that RCT stands for Randomised Controlled Trial. A UC special set on names from Shakespeare made up from chemical symbols – eg Aluminium and Arsenic give you the first word of Hamlet’s speech about Yorick - brought UCL 2 bonuses, and me a lap of honour for knowing all of those elements and getting a full house. The knowledgeable UCL skipper knew that a lammergeier is a vulture for the next starter. Winners of the Turing award in computing promised me little so I was quite surprised to take two, the same two as UCL. Marco Malusa knew that Nicholas II was deposed in 1917 to take Edinburgh’s second starter. Towns in southern England did not fall kindly for them and they failed to add to their score. This brought us to the music round. We were played the outro of a pop song, and Max Fitz-James struck with a lightning buzz to identify Otis Redding’s Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay. More pop provided Edinburgh with a timely full house. George Mitkov came in too early with an incorrect answer for the next starter, but Edinburgh didn’t recognise abbreviations of teams from the premier league in Denmark. Not flippin’ surprised, either. Another rush of blood to the head saw George Mitkov lose another five points. Now, if a question has the words ‘essayist’ and ‘Shakespeare’ in it, hit the buzzer and say Charles Lamb. Max Fitz-James took the whole question and then supplied the correct answer. A splendid full house on theology followed. Feiyu Fang took a speculative punt that the name codeine is derived from the Greek for poppy head, and he was right to do so. John Masefield’s poem “Cargoes” provided just the one bonus. So on the cusp of the 20 minute mark UCL led by 115 – 80, but things looked a little more hopeful for Edinburgh since they had reduced the deficit from 75 to 35.

I did actually know that Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest country without permanent rivers. Neither of the teams managed that one. Feyu Fang dropped five for an early buzz. Max Fitz-James knew several things which end in -oon, and what’s more he knew it very quickly too. Two word phrases from Nobel Prize citations earned me a surprise two bonuses, but more importantly provided Edinburgh with a full house which put them just one bonus behind UCL. UCL skipper Robert Johnstone though was keeping his head, and was the first to recognise a description of a clarinet. Figures whose surnames mean blacksmith in their native languages made a rather lovely set which gave UCL their on timely full house. Thus we arrived at the second picture set. We saw Impression Soleil Levant and quite rightly, bearing in mind how famous the picture is, Max Fitz-James ws in very quickly to identify it as the work of Claude “Show me the” Monet. Works by other exhibitors in what has been called the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 brought another full  house. Something about bases in Maths passed by all of us without troubling the scorer. Sophia Walker won the buzzer race to recognise several definitions of the word motif. UCL answered two bonuses on Joshua Trees. I did think they might have sneaked in a question about the U2 album into that set, but it was not to be. Edinburgh weren’t finished yet. Marco Malusa was very quickly in to recognise regions of Norway. Seemingly inevitably they provided a full house, and yay, the scores were tied! Squeaky bum time. Something about proteins gave Max Fitz-James the next starter, and Edinburgh the lead for the very first time in the contest. Orchestral works seemed to be something of an Achilles heel, since they only took one bonus. One again it was that man Johnstone steadying the ship and keeping his team moving, when he correctly supplied the term peptic for the next starter. Bonuses on Japan yielded them nothing. Little time remained. If Edinburgh could take the next starter, a  bonus would surely leave UCL with too much to do. Sophia Walker gambled on an early buzz – I really can’t blame her for that – and lost five. Max Fitz-James – as influential for his own team as Robert Johnstone had been for his – correctly identified the Algonquin Hotel to leave UCL more than a full house behind. The Pritzker Architecture Prize was the subject of the bonuses, but hey, we were gonged before any of them were completed. Edinburgh had thus pulled off one of the greatest comebacks since Lazarus, carried out with what I suspect should be a superb bonus conversion rate.

Congratulations to both teams on a splendid match.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I think that he was as absorbed in the match as I was, since there was nothing worthy of note for the whole match.

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

In Greek mythology Tiresias, the blind prophet, had lived both as a man and as a woman.


Jack said...

Indeed it was largely on the bonuses that Edinburgh won the game, 19/24 to U.C.L.'s (also perfectly respectable) 16/30, plus just one penalty to their four. An excellent contest, most unfortunate that this is a sudden death tie, U.C.L. most unfortunate to go out this early. I'd be saying the same of Edinburgh had they lost though, especially after they recovered so well from such a bad start. Well played both teams!

On Monday, according to some contestants on Twitter, we should be seeing Clare vs St Edmund Hall, another fixture which could, in theory, go either way.

Paul Gilbert said...

This match took place a year to the week after these two institutions met in the 2nd round last series. On both occasions, the team with a mathematician in seat 4 (UCL last year, Edinburgh this year) were leading by 5 points going into the final starter - however, this time the trailing team's gamble on that final starter was incorrect, leaving UCL to go out at this stage for the second year running.

Aethelstan said...

Well this was an astonishing match! UCL very much snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I felt they were stronger on the buzzer, if they had spent less time conferring they might have been able to leverage that strength a lot more.

I slightly favoured Edinburgh for this match, largely as they now have an established track record of sending through strong teams. An assault on the final seems inevitable, maybe this season will be their year?? Duly noted they couldn't find a lady contestant..

If we do get Clare vs Teddy, I may favour Teddy from a mathematical point of view.