Sunday, 15 September 2019

University Challenge Round One - Heat 7 - Jesus, Oxford v. Manchester

Jesus, Oxford v. Manchester

Good evening, dearly beloved. Look, I’m really sorry that I’ve been so tardy about posting reviews of the last two UC matches. It’s not much of an excuse, but I did start back at my school a couple of weeks ago, and while things have been going just fine, I just haven’t found time in my hectic schedule up to now.

So, then, a couple of weeks ago we had two of the teams you might expect to do well battling it out with each other. The Jesus team consisted of Lucy Clarke, James Cashman, Miranda Stevens and captain Matt Cook. Manchester were represented by Jack Rogers, Melissa Johnson, Adam Booth and skipper James Green.

Both James Cashman and I got the word mandate early from the first clue for the first starter. Films directed by Alfred Hitchcock provided one bonus. James Green struck back for his team, recognising that Generals January and February probably belonged to Russia. Eugene Ysaye – yes, Eugene Who? – might have provided LAM Towers with nul points, but Manchester knew enough to level the scores. A tricky starter on the periodic table saw me take a lap of honour – in fact I nearly did a double since I thought it was that good – for knowing that W only appears in the element Lawrencium, although it does symbolise another element – tungsten – in whose name it does not appear. Kudos to Jack Rogers for working that one out as well. Pairs of words differing only by the addition of the letter j  ape and jape for example – promised a full set, and indeed delivered one to all of us. Already we had reached the picture starter.We were shown a graph of the finishing positions of an English Premier League football club and asked which it was. Adam Booth answered with Arsenal, yet didn’t get a telling off for bad language from JP, who actually congratulated him on a correct answer. More of the same brought one bonus. James Green came in early to identify bated breath as a phrase which first appears in “The Merchant of Venice”. Blinking idiot also appears in that play, although I don’t know if that’s its first appearance. Test matches played by the West Indies were easy enough that I managed a full house, with Manchester getting just the one. So by the ten minute mark, Manchester led by 65 – 15. They had clearly had the better of the buzzing, however a certain profligacy with bonuses suggested that there was still a lot of this match to be played.

Adam Booth played with fire by hesitating for a moment or two before supplying a correct answer to the next starter – knowing that the Kelvin – K – is named after William Thompson. Biology did little for me, more importantly it did little for Manchester, either. The next starter was one of those where you had to wait and wait, until suddenly it became obvious, at the mention of the word Halcyon in this case. Melissa Johnson won that buzzer race. European History bonuses finally brought Manchester a full house. With Jesus College languishing on 15, I did wonder whether the dreaded Paxman encouragement would soon be on the way. Lucy Clarke forestalled this by buzzing early on the nest starter to identify Lucan as a favourite of the Emperor Nero. Till he disappeared to run a beach bar on Bali, that is. Bonuses on Serbia in World War I brought another 5 points. This was added to when Miranda Stevens buzzed in to correctly identify the stigma in a flower’s reproductive parts. This earned a set of bonuses on true flies, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, if I remember correctly. Jesus managed two bonuses, and this brought us to the music set. Now, I’m not familiar with the oeuvre of the performer Kesha, but Lucy Clarke is, since we hardly heard any of her distorted warblings – Kesha’s, not Lucy’s – before Lucy buzzed in with the correct answer. The song quotes the tune known as “Streets of Cairo”, which is often used as musical shorthand for an Arabian setting – three more of the same sort of thing brought two bonuses, one maybe a little controversial. I’ll say more about that after. Melissa Johnson unfurled the sails for her becalmed Manchester vessel, being first in to recognise a description of a Stegosaurus. The novels of Robert Harris brought a timely full house. Adam Booth took a flier on the next starter. To be fair, if you’re asked for an Italian scientist Galileo is always going to leave you in with a shout, but this time it lost five, because he didn’t invent the barometer. Jesus were unable to dredge up the name of Torricelli. I was a little surprise that the mention of Flatford Mill didn’t suggest The Haywain to any of the 8 contenders, but then again nobody knows everything. Matt Cook won the buzzer race to identify “First Man” from a number of clues. Bonuses on Physics brought 5 more points, taking them to 85 at the 20 minute mark. Manchester led with 120, but at least Jesus were now slinging buzzer, and matching Manchester blow for blow.

Now, be honest, when you heard the name Jubba in the next starter, how any of you involuntarily thought – The Hutt -? I did. It’s a river which, as Adam Booth answered, reaches the sea in Somalia. People in the Art world brought two bonuses. So to the second picture starter and a still from West Side Story. As I shouted this out, I added – more films based on plays by Shakespeare (which indeed turned out to be the subject of the bonuses) and correctly predicted Forbidden Planet as one of them, and Ran as another. Coming back to the starter, James Green took that one. I didn’t have 10 Things I hate About You and Taming of the Shrew, while Manchester took a full house. The Manchester skipper took a double, recognising a description of Glengarry Glen Ross. Electronics should have excluded me from answering, but I’m glad to say I managed 2. The Chi squared test saw Manchester lose five, allowing Miranda Stevens in for Jesus. Manchester were over the event horizon by now, but a repechage worthy score was possible. New York’s Chelsea Hotel gave them a fighting chance, delivering a full house. This was followed by a very good shout by Lucy Clarke identifying the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Poisonous plants found in the UK delivered a second full house, giving Jesus 8 correct answers in a row. Matt Cook gave Jesus a reasonable shout at a repechage slot, knowing some characters created by Evelyn Waugh. Bonuses on US Geography took Jesus to within a full house of an improbably draw. Lucy Clarke was very unlucky to incur an interruption penalty for being just a millisecond too early with an incorrect answer to the next starter. This was compounded when Melissa Johnson answered that the world’s oldest artificial sweetener is saccharine. The periodic table saw me rubbing my hands together, prematurely as it happened. The contest was gonged as JP read out the first question, with Manchester winning by 185 to 145.

Well played both teams. Not much to choose in bonus conversion rates – Manchester recovered after a bad start to post a rate just slightly above 50%, as did Jesus. If Manchester had emerged from their collective shell 5 minutes earlier, well they could even have won. As it is though, I think we’ll see them again. We’ll definitely see Manchester again, and rightly so.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

A slight flicker when Manchester suggested that a 1990 Test Match might have been switched to Buenos Aires, but there was no real effort at derision, I’m afraid. As for controversy corner – well, for the second musical bonus Jesus College offered They Must Be Giants instead of There Might Be Giants – as JP confirmed while still awarding the points. My opinion – and as usual, please feel free to disagree – is that they clearly knew the correct answer . . . however they didn’t actually SAY the correct answer. I know it’s very, very harsh. However, when you accept near misses, then you are opening a can of worms. It might not have made a difference to the outcome of this match, but it’s the sort of thing where five points might make the difference between a place in the repechage and going out.

Indignation came late from JP when neither team knew that the town of Navan is in the Republic of Ireland.

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

The first known appearance of the phrase ‘bated breath’ occurred in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”.

1 comment:

Jack said...

A good contest between two well matched teams, well matched both on the buzzer and the bonuses (both, as you said, just a tad under 50% on the bonuses, Jesus 14/24 and Manchester 17/30). Manchester deserved the win on the whole, and hopefully Jesus have done enough to return in the play-offs.