University Challenge – Sudden Death Play Off – Manchester v. Darwin
Well, here it is, dearly beloved. From here on in, every match is a knockout match. Manchester have one of the finest records of any university in UC, and hoping to make it through to the semis were Alexander Antao, Georgia Lynott, Joe Hanson and captain James Ross. Joining them at the bar in the last chance saloon were Darwin, Cambridge, represented by Stuart Macpherson, Chris Davis, Guy Mulley and skipper Jason Golfinos. Despite their narrow defeat by Bristol, the way that Darwin had outbuzzed a distinctly useful Emmanuel team made them obvious favourites to me. All unless Jason Golfinos had an off night. Which is always possible . . .
Well, that idea was blown out of the water as he buzzed incredibly early to identify laughing as the linking theme between several names. Voltaire, who surprisingly didn’t invent the battery, brought them 2 bonuses. I would imagine that Jason Golfinos, like me, got the next starter from knowing that the Indonesian part of Borneo is Kalimantan, which starts with KAL – and thus he took his second. The latin word quo provided them with a further two bonuses. Look, I didn’t even understand the question for the next starter, let alone Jason Golfinos’ answer The Reimann Zeta Function, but for once he was wrong. Despite that though Manchester had already lost 5 points on that one for an early buzz. Inevitably, Jason Golfinos knew that Lucretius had written a full length explanation of epicurean philosophy – well, it was either that or mowing the lawn, I guess – to earn a set on Physics, which brought Darwin a full set. The picture starter showed a map showing the distribution of a single species of Felidae – big cat. Judging by the copious amounts of mid and southern Africa, and the sporadic pockets in Asia covered I guessed leopard – when I was in school the Asian lion was confined to just the Forest of Gir, and for all I know they might even all be gone now - and was right. Alex Antao tried civet, and Chris Davis Caracal and were wrong. Something about Newtons and hydraulic pressure saw Stuart Macpherson lose 5, and Manchester fail to capitalise. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get the kit kat club for the next starter any more than either of the teams did. Jason Golfinos stopped the rot, and supplied the term superfluous man for the next starter. If I was being exceptionally mean I could say that this term could be applied to any of his three teammates – joking, joking, sorry, couldn’t resist it. (the joke would be proven to be untrue later in the match.) This brought the map bonuses at last, more of the same, and a further ten points were added to Darwin’s score. Thus they led 80 points to minus 5 at the ten minute mark, and Manchester were staring at the barrel of a gun.
Joe Hanson put Manchester into the black, knowing a range of people connected by the name Shannon. Parties featuring in novels of the 1930s sounded unpromising, but Manchester needed a full house and they got it. I knew The Maiden No More was part of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and I think James Roos might have, but when he buzzed in it had gone, leaving Guy Mulley to prove that he wasn’t a superfluous man by giving the correct answer. They took two, but surprisingly didn’t work out that the Venus de Milo is so called because it was discovered on Milos. Jason Golfinos was back on the mark with the next starter, knowing that both a tooth and a valve in the heart can be called bicuspid. In the words of the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors – ‘I thrill when I drill a bicuspid. It’s swell, though they tell me I’m maladjusted.’- Scientific terms beginning with obl – brought a full house. There was a nice music starter where we were played a piece written specially for the piano, but we were only allowed to hear the part played by the left hand. If we heard two note we couldn’t have heard much more before Alexander Antao buzzed in to correctly answer Chopin. Impressive. Three more of the same saw them make short work of taking a full house. They were doing well with bonuses, but just couldn’t get going on the buzzer. Chris Davis got himself taken off the superfluous man list, recognising a number of states surrounding Colardo rather quickly. I waited for the inevitable Golfinos high five, and wasn’t disappointed. The author Ali Smith – yes, Ali Who in LAM Towers – provided the bonuses. One of them required the answer Harriet Martineau. I twice stayed in her house in Front Street, Tynemouth during the mid 80s. She wasn’t there, having died 108 years earlier. Only the one bonus fell for Darwin this time. Apparently Mercury has a day longer than two of its years. Nobody knew. Jason Golfinos knew the US sociologist Talcott Parsons for the next starter. This brought a set of bonuses on artistic and historical terms beginning with colo. These were dispatched to the boundary without much difficulty. Joe Hanson won the buzzer race to ascribe ‘If ignorance is bliss . . . “ to Thomas Gray. Bonuses on cycle sport almost brought a full house, and would have done were it not for a slip of the tongue which saw skipper James Ross offer cyclo course for cyclo cross. This meant that by the 20 minute mark they had scored 55 to Darwn’s 175.
I’ll be honest, it didn’t occur to me that the painting for the second picture starter might be by Munch any more than it did to either team. Nor did any of us know the terms earl and bishop palatine. Nor did anybody know the term spicule. So for the second time in the match it seemed that the picture bonuses were never going to come out. Finally I got the chance to earn a lap of honour. Which country’s flag has horizontal bands of colours top to bottom expressed in the words leukocyte – chlorophyll and erythrocyte? knowing this was white green red gave me Bulgaria, a millisecond before Alex Antao buzzed in with the same answer. The pictures showed us three more portraits of the artists’ sisters, and Manchester knew two of them. Neither knew that a region of Bordeaux takes its name from the Garonne and the Dordogne. Georgia Lynott was impressively early on the Booker Prize winning The Luminaries. Constellations brought them two bonuses which pit them within a starter of a triple figure score. There wasn’t enough time left for them to win, but fair play to them, they were giving it a lash. Chris Davis probably thought all his Christmases had come at once, since the next starter was right up his street, and he gave the correct answer Arabidopsis. Gesundheit. After the high five European monarchies brought Darwin a swift full house. James Ross knew that a selection of words including kaleidoscope all contain a Greek element meaning beautiful. Films that refer to Homer’s Odyssey brought ten points to take Manchester to 110. James Ross was on a roll, knowing that the next starter was clearly pointing towards Quasimodo. Different ways of representing ethanoic or acetic acid gave them just one wrong answer before the contest was gonged.
I’m glad that Manchester came back to an extent. They were a pretty decent team and deserved to go out fighting. But Darwin had another great night on the bonuses, and with the Golfinos 6 starter blitz in the first 20 minutes there was only one winning team.
Looking forward to the semis.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
When Guy Mulley suggested that the kit kat club might have been the Pudding Club, rather surprisingly JP just accepted it at face value. As in fact did the studio audience. So it’s just me who has the sense of humour of a schoolboy – and an immature one at that? Fair enough. Then when Alexander Antao came in impressively early on the music starter JP challenged him to name the piece. He did just that, and JP took a sharp intake of breath before confirming it. Worth a well done, Jez, surely. When Joe Hanson realised he was giving the wrong answer to an astronomy question, JP told him he was right- but only that he was right that he had given a wrong answer. Oh Jez, you tease.
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
The Kit Kat Club may have taken its name from the mutton pies served at meetings. (You have permission to make your own jokes about chocolate covered wafers)