Saturday, 17 August 2019

University Challenge 2020 - Round One - Heat 4 - Birmingham v. Bristol

Yes folks, it was the battle of the Bs in heat 4, Birmingham and Bristol. Bristol did ask if I could meet up with them, have a chat and give them the dubious benefit of my experience, but sadly it was on just too short notice, and I couldn’t make it. Still, it did mean that I was hoping the team would do well. Aiming to prevent this from happening were Birmingham in the shape of Alex Milone, Izzy Lewis, Ben Sculfor and captain Zoe Bleything. For Bristol we had Ben Allen, Dan Hawkins, Ben Joynson and skipper Laura Denton.

Ben Allen struck first for Bristol knowing that The Testaments is the 2018 sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. Two word phrases containing a colour brought one bonus. Ben Sculfor recognised various definitions of the word backstop before we got to the most notorious one. This brought Birmingham 3 bonuses on chocolate, upon which they gorged themselves with a full house. A great quick buzz from Laura Denton saw her identify the person in question as one of the founders of the Science of Epidemiology. Pairs of words that differ only by the substitution of an e for a u or vice versa saw them take 2 out of a gettable set. A fine early buzz from Dan Hawkins saw him identify a set of capital cities on or near Lake Victoria. Ida Noddack – yes, Ida Who? – promised little, yet delivered me a lap of honour for knowing Rhenium. I didn’t have a scooby about the next one, but Bristol took a full house. So to the picture starter, and an unhelpful (to me) electron dot diagram. Ben Joynson knew that one, and three more of the same sort of thing provided a further ten points. All of which meant that slightly after the 10 minute mark Bristol led by 80 – 25.

Ben Allen buzzed too early for the next starter. When I heard introduced in 2018 and Football League I too thought VAR, but the words code of conduct showed that this was not the right answer. It was the Rooney rule, requiring clubs to interview at least one minority candidate for each coaching position. Birmingham couldn’t capitalise. Alex Milone knew that the other main variety of coffee apart from robusta is arabica, and the last three letters of it are ica. Fictional Hotels gave them one bonus. Ben Sculfor continued the Birmingham revival knowing that a given set of works were set in Nagasaki. A couple of bonuses on Australia meant that Birmingham could take the lead with the next set. Neither team knew the term thermolabile for the next starter. Me neither. A good interruption saw Dan Hawkins identify a couple of capitals of the Bulgarian Empire. Sporting achievements brought just the one bonus, but took us up to the music starter. Now look, if I’m asked for the composer of a symphony on UC, and I don’t have a scooby, I always answer Beethoven. Ben Allen zigged with Haydn, Izzy Lewis zagged with Beethoven, and she was right. Other classical works featuring prominently in Wes Anderson films didn’t help them at all, and they failed to identify any of them. Ben Sculfor knew the term substrate for the next starter, and two bonuses on events on various 10ths of December brought them to 85 points, just 5 behind Bristol. Once again, we had a contest where the outcome was unclear by the 20 minute mark.

Both teams were level after Dan Hawkins came in too early for the next starter, allowing Alex Milone in with Tom Wolfe – the Bonfire of the Vanities and the Right Stuff being the clinchers. One bonus on a tough set on Geology took them into triple figures. Given a reprieve through a wrong answer by Birmingham for the next starter, Laura Denton eventually dredged up Cape Wrath. It seemed a long time since Bristol had a correct answer, but two bonuses on rock bands gave them back a slender lead. For the second picture starter Dan Hawkins won the buzzer race to identify Sir Quentin Blake. 3 more children’s laureates provided a timely full set. Fair play to Ben Sculfor, though, he wasn’t giving anything up for Birmingham, and buzzed early to answer Hyperbolic Geometry. ( That’s the one about fantastic triangles and unbeatable angles, I presume). A terrific set on the chemical formulae of various – oses – brought a full house and a highly prized Paxman well done. Ben Allen squared the teams’ scores by coming in too early on the next starter, wanting the word seabed, but Birmingham couldn’t take advantage. Neither team could recall characters from The Old Curiosity Chop either for the next starter. Ben Allen came in early for the next starter, but was one year out, a death or glory charge which looked like it could end in death. Nobody knew that ergocalcipherol (who was one of the decepticons, I thought) was vitamin D2. Right, then. We were asked the last starter, and Ben Sculfor buzzed in just as the gong went. Which meant that his answer wouldn’t count anyway. So This gave Birmingham a win by 5.

Again, another contest that went down to the wire, which is what I’d prefer to see if I’m honest. Very bad luck to Bristol, but I just can’t see them coming back. Well done to Birmingham. Both teams had similar bonus conversion rates, with Bristol slightly the better, however at the end of the day it was the interruption penalties which did for them.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I thought it was a bit mean insisting that Bristol gave the Christian name of the coach of the England Women’s netball team who won Commonwealth gold in 2018. But I would imagine that was a message in JP’s ear which insisted on that.

I think he had a bit of a downer on Bristol. When they realised that they didn’t know the band Metric and passed, he sneered sarcastically , “Thank you. Took a long time getting there, didn’t you.”

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

The Testaments is the 2018 sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.


Myron said...

Strictly speaking, "The Testaments" was announced in 2018, but won't be released until next month.

Londinius said...

D'Oh! Proves that I really DIDN'T already know it though¬!

Jack said...

A low scoring but close contest, the result of which caused a bit of controversy, due to Paxo accepting Birmingham's answer of 'branch' when he wanted 'trunk', which ultimately proved the difference. Still, what's done is done; unfortunately, I don't think Bristol have quite done enough for the play-offs.

Stephen Follows said...

Is The Old Curiosity Chop an obsolete move in karate?