Saturday, 20 April 2019

University Challenge 2019 - Semi Final 1

Apologies all. I was away last weekend, and then when I got back I found that my internet was buggered malfunctioning. Still, all sorted now. So let’s try to catch up a bit.

Semi Final 1) Durham v. Edinburgh

Look I don’t know how they decide which teams face each other in the semis, although it always makes sense to keep the two teams who were unbeaten in the quarters apart from each other. Still, the little quirk thrown up this year was that this semi was a repeat of a quarter final match. So you could have forgiven Durham , in the shape of Sian Round, Cameron Yule, Ben Murray and skipper Matthew Toynbee for entering their semi with confidence. Of all the teams this year, they had seemed the most rounded, with buzzing throughout the team, and frankly had been tipped for the top by many people. As for Edinburgh, well, you wouldn’t have blamed Matt Booth, Marco Malusa, Robbie Campbell Hewson and captain Max Fitz-James for entering their semi with a certain amount of trepidation following their defeat by the same team.

You may recall that last time out Durham blitzed Edinburgh with an early buzzing storm which gave them a healthy lead, and although Edinburgh came back towards the end they never really got on terms. Well, Max Fitz-James came in early gambling on a question that was always going to require the answer of Handel’s Water Music or his Royal Fireworks. He zigged with the former, allowing his opposite number to zag with the latter, and earn a set of bonuses on the Kalinga Prize. Durham took two of a pretty gettable set. Max Fitz-James won the buzzer race to identify the noun linking Einstein’s statement about God, and Caesar’s statement on crossing the Rubicon as dice. The Archaeologist Maria Gimbutas – all together now, Maria Who? In LAM Towers – brought their own two bonuses. Matt Booth followed his skipper’s lead and took the next starter recognising a quote pertaining to Shakespeare’s Shylock. Geometry brought me nowt, but a further 10 points and the lead. Already Edinburgh had made a better start than in the previous match between these teams, and there was still a while to go before we hit the 10 minute mark. The picture starter showed us a graph of the USA’s economic performance throughout the 20th century, with a particular period marked off. You didn’t have to be a genius to see that this was the Great Depression, however you did have to be quick on the buzzer to get a chance to say so. It was Cameron Yule who won that race. More events on the graph brought 10 points and gave Durham back the lead. Matt Booth came in too early for the next one and lost 5. In a way this didn’t matter, since it proved that Edinburgh were determined to stand toe to toe slugging it out with Durham, in a way that they didn’t manage to do early enough in the quarters. Durham were unable to dredge up the term constructivism. Matthew Toynbee recognised a series of victories for the Duke of Marlborough, to earn a set on what is fast becoming a UC hardy perennial, Chinese provinces and their capitals. It didn’t do them a great deal of good, nonetheless they led by 50 – 30 just after the ten minute mark.

The Durham skipper took his second starter in a row, knowing that a variety of nouns can all be preceded by the prefix psycho. This enabled them to take one bonus on a very tricky set on chairs. I’ll be honest, I know nothing about the Scottish mathematician Maclauren, but Robbie Campbell Hewson did, to get his team moving forward again. They took two bonuses on a very gentle set on swans. So to the music round, and very quick buzz from Max Fitz-James identified a wee bit of Tchaikovsky. The bonuses were three other classical works that quoted the works of other well known composers. This brought them back the lead. I don’t blame Cermon Yule for coming in early and chancing his arm with Walt Whitman on the next starter as I did eactly the same, but we were both wrong, and it lost 5. Edinburgh didn’t capitalise. However there was a lovely cameo as Robbie Campbell Hewson squirmed on his seat as he tried to recall the Via Dolorosa. He managed and won the buzzer race. A set on literary criticism brought a very timely full house. Nobody knew the answer to a Sciencey thing for the next starter, and for once my trusted tactic of answering 1 or 0 if the answer required a number let me down. Ben Murray took the next starter, working out that the answer to a biblical question would be Ethiopia. Bonuses on electricity brought them to 85 points. However, Edinburgh already had 95. I may be wrong, but I think that this was the first time that Durham have ever been behind at the 20 minute mark. This was all going to rest on which ever team could manage a grandstand finish.

A great early buzz from Robbie Campbell Hewson for the next starter identified my own surname, and suggested that Edinburgh’s tails were up. Welsh orthography provided me with a full house – well I have been learning it for a little while now – and Edinburgh with two bonuses. Neither team recognised Corazon Aquino for the photo starter – I’m guessing that they’re all too young. Again, Durham came back with a great buzz from Cameron Yule to identify a series of events including the foundation of Rome as all ending in the digits 5 and 3. A lovely set of photograph bonuses showing political leaders whose children went on to hold the same office saw me correctly predict Nehru and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, although I didn’t predict the Trudeaus, who apart from creating the Doonesbury cartoon apparently both ran Canada in their spare time as well. The next starter required the surname Moses, and I thought it was always going to be a buzzer race. Yet both teams sat on their buzzers, and it was with a disbelieving shrug that Max Fitz-James placed the right answer on the table. Playing the prediction game again, when JP announced bonuses on writing on slavery I predicted Beloved, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Roots. Well, the first two were right, but the Sport of Kings was the other. None of us worked out clues to the element Tellurium for the next starter. Now, if you’re asked for a composer who wrote 9 symphonies before his death, it might be Beethoven, but Mahler’s a good shout too, and Cameron Yule zagged with that to win the next starter. None of us knew enough about biochemistry to attempt the bonuses that followed, so captain Matthew Toynbee opted sensibly for speed and passed. Once again it was Edinburgh’s captain Fantastic, Max Fitz-James, who kept his side ahead, winning the buzzer race to identify the latin word incipit for the next starter. 20th century wars of independence offered them the chance to stretch the gap past one full set again, and with two correct answers, they established a 45 point lead. It was imperative that Durham took the next starter. Ben Murray had a go, but failed, but Edinburgh couldn’t capitalise. Didn’t matter, for the clock was on their side. Robbie Campbell Hewson pretty much sealed the deal knowing that Charles I was born in Dunfermline. Max Fitz-James shook his fists in triumph as JP announced bonuses on Racine. That was almost it. Durham led by 180 – 110, and neither team knew Paul Samuelson as the clock ran down. Indeed we were gonged before a correct answer to the next starter.

Very bad luck to Durham who had looked a favourite for the whole of this year’s series up until this game. But an inspired performance from Edinburgh saw them deservedly win their place in the final.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I would imagine that there’s nothing you can say to the losing semi finalists which would be of much consolation, but fair play to JP he didn’t really try, choosing to remind them that they’d started well, fallen away, and this was a bit of a reversal of their last meeting. Yeah, thanks for that Jez.

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

Plenty that I didn’t know in this show, but nothing stood out. Sorry.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Impressive win by Edinburgh; they'll start the final as underdogs, but they've already proved they can spring a surprise in those circumstances, they definitely shouldn't be ruled out. Hard lines to Durham, but they can be satisfied with their series of performances.

The bonuses were also pretty key: Durham managed 9/21 and Edinburgh 20/27.