Saturday, 9 March 2019

University Challenge 2019 - Quarter Final Elimination Match

Glasgow v. Manchester

Yes, drinking in the last chance saloon on Monday we had Glasgow and Manchester. Glasgow were represented by Lewis Barn, Freya Whiteford, Cameron Herbert and captain James Hampson. Manchester were beaten last time out by Edinburgh, and they were represented by Alexander Antao, Georgia Lynott, Joe Hanson and skipper James Ross. Favourites? Well, you pays yer money. . .

I had a very early lap of honour in this show. The first starter was extremely science, then took a swerve asking about a theoretical wager on the existence of God. Pascal! I shouted at the same time as Georgia Lynott buzzed in with the same answer. The architectural partnership of Venturi and Scott-Brown brought Manchester just the one bonus. Both teams let the next starter play out rather longer than absolutely necessary – after all, fictional work inspired by Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution rather screams out A Tale of Two Cities, but eventually Cameron Herbert went first and picked up the points for Glasgow. 20th century inventions brought 2 bonuses and the lead. A good early buzz from James Hampson identified La Boheme from a description. Cell biology did not fill me with optimism, with good reason for I couldn’t get any of the bonuses. Glasgow managed just the one as well. For the picture starter we saw a map showing an island country. Now, the country itself was enlarged in relation to the rest of the map, the most obvious feature of which was the island nation of Sri Lanka. This was a pretty big clue to the Maldives, but not a clue either team could pick up on, and the picture bonuses rolled over. I spotted the Monroe Doctrine in the next question early doors, and shortly afterwards so did Joe Hanson, to get Manchester on the move again. Picture bonuses of 3 more island groups provided 2 correct answers, and this meant that we had a tied game at 35 apiece by the ten minute mark.

Neither team knew the optical axis any more than I did for the next starter. There was a lovely UC special for the next starter. If you take the initial letters of a country and its capital, then France would be FP and Germany GB. Got it? The teams were asked to name two countries of Europe which would be SB. Lewis Barn had it with Serbia and Belgrade, and Slovakia and Bratislava. I’m sure he could have had Switzerland and Bern as well. Film criticism brought them two more correct answers. James Ross knew works that were connected by Warsaw. The Cote d’Azur brought absolutely nowt to Manchester for the bonuses. I only knew the perfume one myself. I have no idea what blockchain is all about but Freya Whiteford was in with it very early for the next starter. Ted Hughes brought two bonuses, the other was very gettable too. So to the music starter, and Joe Hanson veritably leapt in to provide the identification of the work of Philip Glass. This was Einstein on the Beach. Three more songs about Scientists saw both of us take a single bonus on Kate Bush. Something about pressures of a gas passed me by completely, but Alexander Antao supplied the correct answer of 2.5 atmospheres. Purpose built capital cities saw Manchester really fail to get to grips with any of the questions and a full set of bonuses went begging. A really lovely starter asked us for the common name of sambucus niger, then helpfully told us it could be made from the Spanish and German masculine definite articles singular – el and der. Alexander Antao was first to work that out. This gave Manchester the lead and a set on classical mechanics. Again unable to convert any bonuses – which can’t have done much for their overall conversion rate, this meant Manchester led by 80 – 70 at the 20 minute mark – but crucially, they had the buzzer momentum at this vital stage.

This state of affairs continued as Alexander Antao took his third consecutive starter with Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown. Three bonuses on fictional works about non existent works brought at last 1 bonus. So to the second picture starter, and James Ross buzzed in to identify a sketch by Tracey Emin. Works by other people who have held professorships at the Royal Academy brought a more healthy pair of bonuses. It seemed a long time since Glasgow had managed to buzz in for a starter. The next starter on Geology didn’t help, as Joe Hanson supplied the correct answer of James Hutton. Pyrotechnic colorants – which I thought were in Persil biological – provided a couple of bonuses, and pushed Manchester closer to the event horizon. I didn’t know but guessed that Jan Smuts was the only person to sign the peace settlements of both the first and second world wars. Alexander Antao lost 5, but Glasgow couldn’t capitalise, and with that, you felt, their chance had gone. Now, I’m sorry to boast, but Dorothy Hodgkin earned me a second lap of honour for the next starter. She’s a Science answer I’ve been waiting to trot out for ages. That fell to the highly effective Alexander Antao, who was one of the main differences between the two teams in this contest. People with the surname Talbot brought just the one bonus, but it was all academic by this point anyway. Alexander Antao had pulled his team ahead through quick buzzing, but came in just a tad too early on the next starter and lost 5. Again, Glasgow couldn’t capitalised, not having worked out that Napoleon’s Corsican birthplace would have been Ajaccio. James Hampson correctly buzzed in the moment he’d heard ‘sporting figure born in Sao Paolo’ but then knew that the answer had just gone. Not your night, sir, I’m afraid. Manchester thus took the whole question, and Joe Hanson supplied the coup de grace with Ayrton Senna. Three bonuses on music provided one correct answer, one wrong answer and then the contest was gonged. Manchester won by 155 to 70.

Not hard to call this one. Both teams were pretty evenly matched up to about 18 minutes, then Manchester’s buzzing, and once again I pay tribute to Alexander Antao’s buzzing in particular because it turned the contest at the crucial time, just overwhelmed Glasgow. This is just as well, since their bonus conversion rate was a miserable one in three. Hard lines Glasgwo, best of luck in the next match Manchester.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Early indignation as James Ross deliberately wound JP up by suggesting that the Aland Islands might be the Faeroes. “The Faeroe Islands!!” spluttered out hero in mock indignation. Freya Whiteford raised her arms in frustration over not being able to dredge up an optics answer and JP sniffily asked “Are you miming something?”

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

Mark Kermode conducted an interview in 2006 with Werner Herzog, during which Herzog was shot with an air rifle.


Jack said...

Yeah, a game of two halves, the teams evenly matched in the first half, then Manchester ran away on the buzzer in the second half; making up for a low bonus rate of 11/33, compared to Glasgow's 7/12. Still, if they, Mr Antao in particular, keep up the buzzing like that, they've got a decent chance of the semis I'd say.

On Monday, the show returns to its old time of 8pm, with Only Connect at 7:30. Bristol will play St Edmund Hall; my guess is the runners-up will play Manchester, while Edinburgh will play the winners of the next game between Darwin and Emmanuel.

Unknown said...

In fact it's the other way around (they've mixed up the brackets a fair amount this year). Edinburgh will be playing the losers of Monday's match while Manchester will play the winners of Darwin/Emmanuel.