Say what you like, dearly beloved, but I do find that a Cambridge v. Oxford match does tend to get the juices flowing. Corpus Christi were represented by Alexander Russell, Will Stewart, Alex Gunasakera and skipper Ian Wang. In their turn, Merton were represented by James Kempton, Rowan Wilson, Jacob Robertson and their captain Nick Ridpath.
A good early buzz from Jacob Robertson got the Oxford team off the mark. He knew that the first US manned space program was called Mercury. A set of bonuses on the US Department of the Interior saw them take one. Neither team could deduce the Wooden Horse of Troy from the lines quoted for the next starter, and Ian Wang came in too early, thus losing 5. So to the first question I missed. I may well have heard of hysteresis before, but I could have waited until doomsday and I still wouldn’t have been able to drag it up. Unlike Alex Gunasakera, whose swift buzz put Corpus into the black. There followed a set of bonuses on the film director Eva DuVernay, or Eva Who? As she is known in LAM Towers. Actually I say that, but I saw and enjoyed Selma – just didn’t know who directed it. 2 bonuses put them level with Merton. The next starter was one of those where you had to wait, and wait, and then buzz like hell once it became obvious. Ian Wang won the buzzer race to identify the Republic of China as Taiwan. Sea turtles didn’t promise a great deal, and yet managed to provide a full set for both of us. A lovely UC special starter in the picture set showed us a disc with ic wille beclyppan þin hand as it’s title. Now, okay, it may well have been 33 years since I last studied Anglo Saxon, but I still recognised this as the Beatles’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Three more of the same followed, and Corpus only missed out on the most difficult which represented Strawberry Fields forever. Skipper Nick Ridpath stopped the rot for Merton, knowing that Anya Shrubsole was the first female to appear on the cover of Wisden. Good shout, that. A set of bonuses on Physics promised me nothing, but while it delivered a good full house to Merton, it also gave me a chance to follow the rule – if it’s about Electricity, say Faraday, and earn myself a lap of honour around the living room for doing so. So after a brisk and bright opening from both teams, by the 10 minute mark Corpus led by 60 – 35.
Sadly for Will Stewart he fell right into the trap with the next starter. Asked for the first 3 letters of an Anglo Saxon kingdom between the Tees and the Forth he went for the later kingdom of Northumbria – the first three letters of which were Nor. Before Northumbria there was Bernicia, which later combined with the southern Deira. Nick Ridpath took the rest of the question and then answered Ber correctly. Events of the 1460s brought a good full set, and the lead. Now, with regards to Science, the only topics where I usually have any hope of getting any points are firstly, the periodic table, and secondly Astronomy. So I was in pretty quickly with pulsars for the next starter, and eventually Jacob Robertson supplied the same correct answer. Video games surprisingly landed me a correct answer for Ocarina of Time, but no more, while Merton took two bonuses. Ian Wang was first in to recognise a description of sacked FBI chief James Comey for the next starter, thus getting his team moving again. Bays in the UK proved rather elusive for Corpus as they managed just the one from a distinctly gettable set. This brought us to the music starter. This gave us I got Rhythm, performed by its composer George Gerschwin. Alex Gunasakera recognised that one, and 3 more Gerschwin jazz standards followed, allowing Corpus to identify 2 of the singers, taking back the lead. Alex Gunasakera took his second consecutive starter, knowing that the smallest species of lynx is commonly called the bobcat. Essential amino acids promised me exactly what they delivered, as in nowt, but it allowed Corpus to stretch the lead a little. Now, I’ve always tried to resist taking a second lap of honour in the same show. But I’m very sorry, when JP gave us two mnemonics for a process in cell biology I shouted the only one I know – mitosis – and I was right! A little while later, when I got my breath back, James Kempton had correctly answered, and Merton had scored two bonuses on yr Beibl, and Welsh folk heroine Mary Jones. Jacob Robertson won the buzzer race to identify John Betjeman who was appointed Poet Laureate in 1972. Doubt in Shakespeare provided a timely full set which meant that just after the 20 minute mark Merton now had the lead with 125 to 105. Anyone’s game.
Stills from films of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, and Kidnapped pointed towards Robert Louis Stevenson, but James Kempton had a speculative punt upfield with Dickens. Ian Wang chanced his arm with Bram stoker, and so the bonuses rolled over. Will Stewart knew the Poles, Margaret and Reginald to earn the picture bonuses. 3 more examples of screen adaptations where the author has more than 250 writing credits on IMD followed, and I thought Corpus did well to take a full set having missed out on Stevenson earlier. Another film starter saw both teams miss out on Grace Kelly, or Princess Grace of Meccano as I think she was once known. Ian Wang correctly named poetry and music as two of D’Alembert’s five fine arts to take the next starter at what was a crucial stage of the competition. Ian Wang certainly seemed to be feeling the tension as he rattled off three correct answers on the Mercury music prize without JP even having the time to read out the full question. Ian Ridpath took a flier with the next starter, asking in which country two teams play a derby. Judging the names as South American he gambled with Colombia. Sadly the full question wanted the capital city they played in, not the country, and on such small margins are tight competitions like this won and lost. Corpus couldn’t capitalise, but they were in the lead anyway, and the clock was running down. I didn’t understand the next question, but Jacob Robertson gave the correct answer of acceleration. A full house of three very quick bonuses on Geology put Merton just 10 points behind. Rowan Wilson lost five points by answering Hebrew as the second most widely spoken semitic language after Arabic. To be fair I would probably have done the same, and don’t blame her for going for it at all. Will Stewart got close with Ethiopian, but actually the answer was Amharic, which is spoken in Ethiopia. He was right on the money with Blenheim, as in battle and palace, for the next starter though. Novels since 1890 with the word Yellow in them only yielded one correct answer, but crucially this put Corpus 30 points ahead. This meant that a full set would not be enough for Merton, they were going to need at least 2 visits to the table. Alex Gnasekera made sure that this wasn’t going to happen by supplying the word Clade for the answer to the next starter. C’mon Feel The Noyze was my favourite one of theirs. One bonus on tin was neither here nor there, as there just wasn’t enough time for Merton now. Will Stewart continued Corpus’ finishing buzzer blitz, knowing the battle of Austerlitz for the next starter. That, as the Two Ronnies used to say, was all we had time for, as the competition was gonged with the scores at 195 to 140.
That doesn’t look close, does it? Yet until the last 3 or 4 minutes it really was either team’s game. Good show – well played Corpus. It was won on the buzzer, especially in the last couple of minutes. I hope we’ll see Merton again in the repechage round, because their bonus conversion was slightly better than Corpus’ – although to be fair both teams were around about two thirds. That’s pretty good quizzing.
Jeremy Paxman Watch
Surely, I thought, surely JP wasn’t going to let a set of bonuses on video games pass without comment. Well, he didn’t let me down totally, but I have to say his comment “I didn’t think you’d have time for that sort of thing.” Was a but lacklustre. C+, could do better for that one, Jez.
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know of the Week
In 2018 Anya Shrubsole became the first female to appear on the cover of Wisden.