Saturday, 26 October 2019

University Challenge 2020 - First Round - Imperial v. Brasenose, Oxford

Imperial v. Brasenose, Oxford

We’re approaching the end of the first round, dearly beloved, just one more to go after this match up between Brasenose and Imperial. The London side were represented by Richard Brooks, Brandon (his surname board said Brandon, he introduced himself with ‘Hi I’m Brandon’, but surely he isn’t Brandon Brandon), Connor McMeel.,and captain Caleb Rich. Brasenose in their turn were Alan Haugh, Maud Mullan, Tucker Drew and their own captain, Ollie Hanson.

Bending, blowing and boggling can all be preceded by mind, and Alan Haugh was the first to notice this. Brasenose took 2 bonuses on the Levant. Ollie Hanson lost five by coming in two early. If he’d have waited he’d maybe have known that if it’s a South American who is runner up in the Tour de France, then he’s a Columbian (probably). It was nice to see Rene Higuita, everyone’s favourite Columbian goalkeeper, getting alluded to in the same question. Connor McMeel got his team underway with that one. They didn’t trouble the scorer on their bonus set on National Anthems. I thought Rieman was where you went to buy paper for your printer, but apparently he was a mathematician as well, as Caleb Rich knew for the next starter. Pairs of words which have the same spelling, but different meanings according to where one stresses a syllable gave Imperial the first full house of the contest. This brought us to the picture starter, and a map showing the 14 islands of Stockholm. I got this having visited that lovely place in chilly February. Richard Brooks won that one. Bonuses of other cities built on islands brought two correct answers, and one which wasn’t far off. Mr. Brandon came in early to suggest that Irving Berlin had written Begin the Beguine, but lost five, allowing Ollie Hanson to hoof the ball into Row Z of the stands by suggesting Scott Joplin when the open goal of Cole Porter loomed wide before him. Thus, at the 10 minute mark, Imperial were making most of the running, leading by 50 - 15.

Mr. Brandon made up for his earlier miss by recognising presidents or prime ministers of amongst other state, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. This gave Imperial the chance to take two bonuses on scientific terms with an x in the middle. As soon as the words ‘which French economist – “ passed the Paxman lips, Caleb Rich struck like a coiled cobra to supply us with the answer – Piketty, who also got to number 5 in the UK charts in 1970 with “That Same Old Feeling” (ask your parents). Bonuses on special edition Barbie dolls made to commemorate International Women’s Day brought another full house, and Imperial were already just one bonus away from a triple figure score. Mr. Brandon gave us a brilliantly quick buzz to identify the word  city being made from the initial letters of the capital cities of Venezuela, Pakistan, Albania and Cameroon. They made the most of it with another full house on ancient Greek philosophy. This brought us to the music starter. This brought no joy to Brasenose as Richard Brooks buzzed in with the correct answer of Aaron Copland – who later became the drummer with The Police, I believe. (Oh, come on, you can’t say that you didn’t see that one coming.)Three more musical works for which Martha Graham created dances. Ironically one of them was Scott Joplin’s, ironically. Maud Mullan probably saved her team from the dreaded Paxman encouragement by taking the next starter, Knowing philanthropy and misanthropy. One physics bonus doubled their score – and funnily enough one physics bonus, on the lumen – was enough to earn me a mid contest lap of honour around the living room. I’ll be honest, soon as I heard ‘ which form of understatement . . .” I had a shy at it with litotes, and after Imperial had given a wrong ‘un Maud Mullan took her second starter in a row with the same. Cats in Fine Art brought them two bonuses, even though none of the questions asked about Botticelli’s famous work, The Birth of Whiskas. Another good buzz from Mr. Brandon identified Stanley Kubrick as the director who had made films based on the novels of, amongst others, Nabokov and Thackeray ( who incidentally were also a useful forward partnership for Brentford during their promotion season in the late 70s). Long distance running promised much but brought just the one bonus. Thus as we approached the 20 minute mark, Imperial had an imperious lead with 145 to 150.

The second picture starter showed us the famous Salvador Dali painting looking down upon the Crucifixion. Tucker Drew took his first starter with this one. Other paintings from the collection in Glasgow’s wonderful Kelvingrove Gallery brought them two bonuses.Connor McMeel knew three philosophers whose surnames began with L,M and N. Human anatomy saw them draw a rare bonus blank. Polymerase Chain reaction means nowt to me, but Mr. Brandon knew it for the next starter. Imperial only managed one bonus on the great Neil Gaiman, but that as enough to give them a 100 point lead. Mr. Brandon added to this, knowing that Omsk lies on the river Irtysh. Gesundheit. A full set on the Olympic Winter Games took Imperial to the brink of a double century. Mr. Brandon took a hattrick, knowing that William Henry Harrison was the filling in a presidential sandwich in 1841. Imperial only took one bonus on Spanish Geography, but the contest was long since over by this stage anyway. Caleb Rich knew that the SI Unit for Something or Other is the Gray. Seed distribution brought both of us just the one bonus. As soon as JP said ‘alpha numerical designation of pairs of roads – “ I guessed that it was going to be A1. The night’s sharpest buzzer, Brandon ( I think we know each other well enough now to dispense with the Mr.) almost inevitably took that one. Again, they took just the one bonus on names of dog breeds, none of which could have been doing their conversion rate any good. Still the buzzer onslaught continued. Caleb Rich came in very quickly with aquafarba, and there was time for their customary one bonus before the contest was gonged. Imperial won with 255 to 70.

Poor Brasenose. You have to feel a little sorry, although to be fair, they demonstrated the principle that if you don’t buzz, you ain’t gonna win. It really needed them to just sling some willy nilly buzzer and hit and hope. I tend to think that you’re better off being hung for a sheep than a lamb. They managed over 50% on the few bonuses they earned. In fact this was similar to Imperial’s. However, Imperial had 43 bonuses to choose from. As for Imperial, well, you can only beat the opposition you have, and this was an impressive display.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Jez was rather indignant when Ollie Hanson suggested Scott Joplin had written some of Cole Porter’s songs. Talk about damning with faint praise. When Maud Mullan took the anthropy starter, he said, “Well done, you were quick there. “ the subtext of which being “- cause you might just as well have been asleep for the last 10 minutes.”

Just how far JP has come over the last decade was shown in his consolatory last comments to Brasenose. “That was stronger than the score seems to suggest, I think Brasenose.” Er, sorry, but no, it wasn’t Jez. Maybe you meant that Brasenose are stronger than their score suggests, which is something I’m willing to concede, but there wasn’t any real evidence in this show on which to base such a judgement.

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

Aquafarba is used as a substitute for egg whites. Now that’s what I call a versatile toothpaste.


Jack said...

Brandon is a regular on US quizzes, having been on US Millionaire and others, and having won a lot of money apparently. It appears he is now going under a different surname to so that he was while on shows over there, so it has been suggested that he was mononymous here as he was in the process of changing his name.

Excellent performance from him, with seven starters, and the rest of his team as well, all getting at least two. A team to be reckoned with in the next rounds, though their bonus rate will maybe need some improvement. Brasenose unfortunate to go out here, they'd have beaten another team.

On Monday, the final first round match sees Lady Margaret Hall of Oxford play Downing of Cambridge; week after, the first play-off match.

Bob Bunting said...

Brandon has been living and studying in London on and off for a couple of years, and has played lots of QLL in that time, and done other stuff on the UK quiz scene. Great guy and an excellent quizzer. And yes Jack is right - he has changed his surname recently, and I think the UC first round match was near the beginning of the process, which I'm guessing is probably why he stuck to just "Brandon".

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