Saturday, 26 January 2019

University Challenge 2019 - round Two - Warwick v. Bristol

Warwick v. Bristol

Thus ends the second round. Monday night saw Emily Wolfenden, Yifei Painter, Robert Gowers and captain Ben Beardsley finally getting their second run out in this year’s competition. They won the first match of the series way back in the mists of time. Their opposition were Bristol, in the shape of George Sumner, Owen Iredale, Pushan Basu and their own skipper Anne LeMaistre. So let’s get cracking.

Yifei Painter, who was the playing reserve for Warwick, immediately proved her worth by realising that 1887 plus introduced two characters to each other equals Holmes and Watson. Novels shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize did nothing for me, but brought 5 points to Warwick. Owen Iredale came in far too early for the next question, whose answer suddenly became obvious about two sentences later. If you’re asked about a language family you’ll be right much more often than not if you answer Indo-European. Robert Gowers plucked that particular piece of low hanging fruit. Scientific prefixes allowed me to get my lap of honour out of the way early with cyan. In fact I also knew cyto and cyno to take a full house on that Science set – a rare happening indeed. Mind you Warwick also despatched all of those to the boundary as well. The Warwick skipper came in too early for the next starter, which gave Bristol a chance to put their score out of the red and into the black. None of us knew the term supersymmetry though. For the second starter in a row Ben Beardsley came in too early for the next starter, asking for the name of a painter, and almost immediately after JP informed us that he had painted Salisbury Cathedral (2 coats of whitewash and three of Dulux) Owen Iredale buzzed in with the correct answer of John Constable. Portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger provided Bristol with their own full house. The good work from Bristol continued when Owen Iredale identified Pittsburgh on a map of the USA for the picture starter. Three more cities also named after historical figures brought two more correct answers and a near miss. This gave Bristol the lead for the first time in the competition. The Warwick profligacy with starters continued as Yifei Painter won the buzzer race to name the fictional resort which formed the title of an unfinished Jane Austen novel, then offered “Villette”. This lost five and allowed Anne LeMaistre in with Sanditon. Words containing the name of a town or city were a nice UC set which provided another full set to Bristol. It was early days yet, but Bristol were certainly converting their bonuses well, and led by 65 – 25 as we approached the 10 minute mark.

The next starter took a while to wend its way to obviousness, but after it did Robert Gowers won the buzzer race to offer the answer with the term ‘fellow traveller’. Particle physics offered me very little, and delivered nowt, but Warwick did find one correct answer. I didn’t understand the next question, but Emily Wolfenden knew that the answer was Pegasus. Fair play. Prizes provided a couple of correct answers, and the team seemed particularly delighted to be quoted lines from “Legally Blonde” in the process. This was enough to take Warwick to five points behind Bristol. I don’t blame Owen Iredale for saying the Tethys Ocean when the next starter asked for an ocean from millions of years ago – how could I blame him? I said the same myself. Still, that five points deduction levelled the scores. Warwick couldn’t capitalise with the Iapetus Ocean. The next starter was something I didn’t really understand about planetary mass, but George Sumner had it. Etymology bonuses seemed like my kind of subject. Rubbish. I didn’t have any of them and neither did Bristol. It was now time for the music round, and Ben Beardsley won the buzzer race to identify the work of Ennio Morricone. Other composers who also won BAFTAs and Oscars for the same film brought both of us just the one correct answer with John Williams for Schindler’s List. Pushan Basu recognised a reference to the philosopher Hegel, to earn bonuses on constituents of steel in addition to iron and carbon. We were all groping in the dark a bit and both only managed the one bonus. Robert Gowers, who was doing a sterling job for his team making correct buzzes when they really needed one, put in another one to correctly identify the first Punic War for the next starter. French departments put Warwick slightly ahead once again. Ben Beardsley won the buzzer race to say that the three composers alluded to in the question all had names beginning with Sch. Bonuses on Demons brought another ten points, which meant that they led by 110 to 85 at the 20 minute mark.

So, we’d had a good, close competition so far. Would one team manage to put on a final spurt to break the invisible elastic binding them together? Well, Owen Iredale put in a splendid early buzz to explain the meaning of the CAM acronym – trust me, I don’t want to type the whole thing out. It will bring no pleasure to either of us. British raptors named after their prey saw them take one bonus. The second picture starter showed us a photograph of Nobel Laureate Chinua Achebe, and Ben Beardsley was in very quickly to identify him. Other recipients of the WEB Dubois Medal brought us both two bonuses. With a 30 point lead, this meant that Bristol now needed more than a full house to at least draw level. A terrific early buzz from George Sumner to identify sepia as the word derived from the Greek for cuttlefish knocked 10 off that lead. Bonuses on Geology showed me that a stone larger than a pebble but smaller than a boulder is officially termed a cobble. Thank you, I didn’t know that. Neither did Bristol, but they did know the other two. Pushan Basu knew that Cormac McCarthy (wasn’t he the Roman Catholic Bishop of Westminster at one point?) wrote the Border Trilogy. Both teams were now level. Historical events 500 years apart – a nice UC set, that – brought the one correct answer needed to give them the lead. Emily Wolfenden threw caution to the wind with the next starter, but alas only managed to correctly give two rather than three of the 4 ceremonial counties of England to border Wales. Owen Iredale put that right, and with three consecutive starters the Force was certainly with Bristol at this point. The events of 1962 provided another 2 correct answers, and now Warwick needed their own full house to draw level. Emily Wolfenden again came in just a tad too early for the next starter. You honestly can’t blame her. At this stage of the game you need starters, and whether you lose by 5 or 50 points makes no difference. Bad luck. Still, this allowed George Sumner to supply the correct answer of Sodium Nitrate. The fat lady wasn’t quite singing for Warwick yet, but she was certainly warming up her voice by this stage. The Director Josie Rourke provided us both with a couple of bonuses. Cue singing from the aforementioned fat lady. Both George Sumner and I guessed that Oranjestad would be the capital of Aruba, and pairs of similar sounding names only allowed us time for one question before the contest was gonged. Well played to both teams, a good contest that. I felt that both teams probably had slightly better conversion rates than we saw last week, but Bristol proved just a little too strong on the run in.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

With the painter question, when Owen Iredale gave the answer of Constable JP veritably snorted ‘It MUST be, of COURSE’. Was that, I wonder, directed at the Warwick skipper who suggested El Greco?

On the city picture bonuses, for Georgetown, Guyana, Bristol offered “King George”. “Which one?” asked our hero. They zigged with II when they should have zagged with 3rd. For the next city they answered “Darwin”. “Which one?” he asked again, a smile on his face. Jez, you old tease, you.

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

A verb that connects the subject and the predicate is called a copula. 3 years studying English at Uni, and 32 years teaching the bloody subject, and I don’t recall ever hearing that one before.


Jack said...

Another good close contest between two well matched sides; like most, it came down to Bristol being slightly quicker on the buzzer, with the sides pretty much equal on the bonuses, Warwick managing 13/24 and Bristol 18/32, with Warwick also incurring four penalties to Bristol's two.

So, that completes the quarter-final line-up. As far as I am aware, the initial draw, starting on Monday, is Glasgow vs Durham, Darwin vs Bristol, Edinburgh vs Manchester and Emmanuel vs St Edmund Hall. Should all be good games, I hope; it's been a good series thus far, and hopefully things will carry on that way.

Keshava said...

This match featured a very, very bad error by the question-setters. Chinua Achebe is *not* a Nobel Laureate (my first reaction when I saw the image was: Wole Soyinka is the only black African writer to win a Nobel, and that is not Wole Soyinka). Had a member of the Bristol team objected, they'd have had to scrap the entire set; clearly that didn't happen. Fortunately Bristol won and the match wasn't decided by this set.

Londinius said...

Hi Both,

Keshava, that leaves me with egg all over my face. Of course you're right, but I didn't know that he wasn't a Nobel Laureate. Which just goes to show how ignorant I am. It's a silly thing for them to do, especially since the question didn't even need to mention that he 'was' a Nobel Laureate, because that wasn't the linking factor between the starter and the other three picture clues. To UC, I think that something like this sticks out (although not to me who didn't notice it) because generally the setters are pretty accurate in my opinion.

Paul Gilbert said...

Bristol's victory means that they, Emmanuel Cambridge, and Edinburgh have all reached the QFs 3 seasons in a row. According to Sean Blanchflower's site, the only other institution to have managed this is Manchester, who reached the semi-finals or better 9 times in 10 series between 2004-05 and 2013-14.

Also, this is the 4th time in the last 5 seasons that Bristol have reached the quarter-finals, and the 8th time in total in the Paxman era - however, they have never reached the semi-finals (yet!).