Saturday, 30 March 2019

University Challenge - Quarter Final Sudden Death Play Off - Edinburgh v. Bristol

Sudden death play off – Edinburgh v. Bristol 

After all the ballyhoo it comes down to this in the quarters. Both teams knew if they won they were through, and if they lost it was the minibus home. Edinburgh had fairly comfortably beaten Manchester in their first quarter, but then lost to Durham in their first qualification match.  Playing for Edinburgh we had Matt Booth, Marco Malusa, Robbie Campbell-Hewson and captain Max Fitz-James. As for Bristol, well, the team of George Sumner, Owen Iredale, Pushan Basu and skipper Anne le Maistre had been drawn in their previous two matches against the two best starter buzzers in the whole series, Jason Golfinos of Darwin, and Freddy Leo of Teddy Hall. They had beaten Darwin on a tie break, and lost very narrowly to Teddy Hall. Morally, you could argue, they deserved a place in the semis. It doesn’t always work like that though.

In both previous quarter final matches, the early buzzing of Owen Iredale had seemed to put messrs Golfinos and Leo off their stride for the early stages of the contests. However it was Max Fitz-James who won the buzzer race to ascribe ‘hope springs eternal’ to Alexander Pope. John Everett Millais provided a couple of bonuses. Matt Booth came in too early for the next starter, losing five, allowing Pushan Basu to answer that Tolstoy had written of his experiences in the Crimean War. Bonuses on molybdenum brought me a lap of honour for knowing that tungsten and osmium have a melting point above 2500 degrees Celsius. I actually knew two of the bonuses to Bristol’s one. George Sumner knew who invented transistors, a question which also was asked in this week’s Mastermind. Balkan combatants in World War I earned just the one bonus. The astronomy starter which followed , describing a star, sounded difficult until it mentioned that it was in Ursa Monir. You hear of a star in Ursa Minor, you thump the buzzer and answer Polaris/Pole Star/ North Star. That’s what the Edinburgh skipper did. A rather complicated Maths Science set brought me nowt and Edinburgh a full house, and a Paxman well done. The picture starter showed us a county town on a map, and both Owen Iredale and I answered Winchester. Three other settlements that were seats of rulers of Anglo Saxon kingdoms brought me my first full house of the evening, and Bristol one correct answer. It had been a well matched contest so far, and Bristol led by 45 – 40 at the 10 minute mark.

Robbie Campbell Hewson recognised works by Isaiah Berlin for the next starter.  Cecil Woodham-Smith – yes, Cecil Woodham-Who – actually provided us both with a full house. I didn’t understand the question which led to the answer congruence, and neither team managed an answer. I guessed that the next starter, about a Greek Historian was referring to Herodotus, and Max Futz-James ventured the same answer, winning a set of bonuses on abbreviations of provinces of Canada and corresponding UK postcode areas. This took their score to 80. Owen Iredale won a fine buzzer race to answer Las Meninas for the next starter, which earned a set on works in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. These brought me just the one bonus, but Bristol none. So to the music round. After some consideration, Pushan Basu identified the work of Debussy. Other works dedicated to the Princess of Polignac brought 2 bonuses. Max Fitz-James came in too early for the next starter and the scores were level again. The rest of the question made it seem fairly obvious that the answer was surface tension, but Bristol shot wide of this open goal. OK, now, whenever you get a UC question which contains the words ‘a group of ministers of Charles II’ you slam the buzzer and answer cabal. That’s exactly what Robbie Campbell Hewson did. Ancient Athens brought me just the one and Edinburgh two correct answers. Both Owen Iredale and I knew that George Canning was briefly Prime Minister in 1827, and this earned bonuses on astronomical terms. Just the one was taken. This meant that the two teams were still separated by just 5 points at the 20 minute mark, Edinburgh leading 95 – 90.

This gap was reduced to zero as Max Fitz-James came in too early for the next starter. Anne Le Maistre knew that Detroit is the largest city in Michigan, to earn bonuses on linguistic typology. Meant little to me, to be honest, and only brought one bonus to Bristol. For the second picture round we saw a Rodin sculpture. Max Fitz-James was first in to see it. Three more sculptures brought a full house and the lead. Matt Booth did exactly what I would have done and guessed that the artist born in 1862, whose early works included portraits of Viennese society figures was Gustav Klimt. Bonuses on film directors did not help them to extend the lead. Owen Iredale knew that Russia and North Korea have borders on the Tumen river. Words relating to groups of trees brought just one bonus. Now, I didn’t work out the complicated sum for the next starter, but I guessed that if the answer was a number then the well known novel we were talking about was very likely to be 1984. So did Robbie Campbell Hewson and we were both right. A full house would just about seal the deal for Edinburgh. Magazines founded in the 19th century brought 2 bonuses, and Edinburgh could still be caught with a full set. Nobody could get the next starter on the planet Jupiter. Robbie Campbell Hewson sealed the deal for once and for good by buzzing early to guess that the work by Ravel alluded to would be the Bolero. British and US history was announced, but there was not time left for this set of bonuses. Edinburgh had won by 155 to 120.

Hard lines Bristol. The matchmakers did you no favours in the quarters and you acquitted yourselves very well in all three matches. As for Edinburgh, well done. This was a match won on the bonuses, and for me Edinburgh were clearly better on bonus conversion.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Not a lot. With a few minutes to go Owen Iredale correctly answered a starter, putting Bristol back to within 15 points of Edinburgh at which JP observed jocularly “Don’t look so despairing, there’s still time!” Well as we all know, encouragement from JP is usually the kiss of death to a team, so no wonder Bristol lost.

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

In the Hindu calendar, the planet Jupiter is associated with Thursday


Paul Gilbert said...

There have been a couple of parallels between Edinburgh's performances in this series and in the last series - in both cases, they scored a narrow win over UCL in Round 2 on the first Monday in December, then won their first QF, lost their 2nd, then beat Bristol in the sudden-death match on the last Monday in March. Given what happened in last year's SF, this year's team are probably hoping that the similarity ends there...

This result does mean that Edinburgh are only the 2nd institution in the Paxman era to reach the SFs 3 years in a row (the other being Manchester, who reached the last four 9 times in the space of 10 series between 2004-05 and 2013-14), and it is the 7th time in the Paxman era that Bristol have been eliminated in the QF stage, and the 4th time in the last 5 years (they have never reached the last 4).

Thanks to for the above.

Jack said...

Indeed, those parallels between Edinburgh last year and this are pretty remarkable. Unlike last year's win over Bristol, though, this was a good solid contest that could've gone either way until the very last minutes. Ultimately, yes, Edinburgh won it on the bonuses, 16/25 to Bristol's 8/27. Hard lines to them, but they gave the two QF favourites good contests, and would've been worthy semi-finalists had they made it.

Edinburgh are certainly worthy too though. I would guess that they'll now play St Edmund Hall in the second SF, while Durham will play the winner of Monday's match between Manchester and Darwin in the first.

Unknown said...

Hi Jack, actually Edinburgh will be having a rematch against Durham in the first semi-final. I guess repeat fixtures are harder to avoid at this stage in the competition!

Will G said...

If the fixture predicted by 'Unknown' is correct, then a repeat fixture could have been avoided (regardless of the result of tonight's match), but at least it means ONE of the two scenarios I was fearful of will be avoided.

Great review as always.

Aethelstan said...

Bristol were a good team, the giant slaying they delivered against Darwin was truly a sight to behold! If we get the result I expect this evening then we will have two all male teams in the semis, a bit of a come down in the old equality stats after last year.