Sunday, 3 November 2019

University Challenge 2020 - First Round

Last of the first round matches, then, dearly beloved. Hoping to take the last place in the second round by right were Matthew Le Croisette, Mary Lobo, Row Janjuah and their captain Isaac Brown, representing Lady Margaret College, Oxford. Hoping to prevent them from doing so, and take the coveted spot for themselves were Downing College Cambridge. Their team were Bovey Zheng, Naivasha Pratt-Jarvis, Pranoy Chaudhuri-Vayalambrone, and their own skipper Robert Jackson.

I thought that both teams sat on their buzzers a little for the first starter, It was so obviously alluding to Beatrix Potter, the famous ale juggling ceramicist. Eventually Naivasha Pratt-Jarvis buzzed in to earn bonuses on librarians. They took two. Painting – Diner – and – four figures were enough to give me Hopper’s Nighthawks for the next starter, and Isaac Brown was hot on my heels with the same. Alumni of the Slade School of Art brought us both just the one bonus. None of us knew the answer to the organic chemistry starter which followed, but apparently the answer is an amine, which I think once attacked the crew of the Enterprise during an episode of the original series of Star Trek. I have to be honest, with the next starter, as soon as it became clear it was a female character from Shakespeare, I would have been tempted to sling buzzer and go for Lady Macbeth straightaway. I’d have been right to do so as well. Robert Jackson hit the buzzer as soon as he heard the word monster. This brought Downing a set of bonuses on physiology. By the time that I zoned back in again, they had scored a full house which brought us nicely to the picture starter. This was a nice UC special. It was a definition, in Spanish, of a single Spanish word which is used in English as well. This one, with drink, water and wine all int eh definition, was always going to be sangria. Isaac Brown was first to see it. Three more of the same provided Lady Margaret Hall with their own full house. I’ll be honest, there can’t have been that many world shaking books published in Germany in 1867, so I thought I was in with a good shout when I went for Das Kapital. Robert Jackson felt the same thing obviously, and this brought bonuses on repetition. This brought bonuses on repetition. Boom boom. One correct answer added 5 to their score. Interesting to see Marx as a bonus answer when the answer to the starter had been Das Kapital. You rarely see that sort of thing happen in a GK round. Nobody knew two of the three great capitals of China other than Berlin. So, at just after the 10 minute mark, Downing led by 60 – 40, with both teams looking up for the competition.

I’ve never heard of the Cheyne -Stokes breathing cycle, but Pranoy Chaudhuri-Vayalambrone had, and buzzed in correctly. 16th century rulers provided a relatively benign set, and Downing put all of these low hanging fruit into their metaphorical basket. I didn’t even understand the next question, but Row Janjuah came in very early with the answer of cadence. Lawyers in Charles Dickens were all gettable, but Lady Margaret Hall (LMH from here on in) took 2. Eastern diamondback gave me rattlesnake, for the next, and evidently Row Janjuah too, who took his double with this one. Recent winners of the Pulitzer Prize for History offered them the chance to draw level with Downing, but they failed to trouble the scorer here. So to the musc starter. How ironic – I was in Vienna last week – locely time, thanks for asking – and we heard the zither-played strains of the theme from the film “The Third Man”. As JP offered ‘Come on! That’s one of the most famous films – “Robert Jackson offered “The Godfather” to predictable indignation from JP. “Matthew Le Croisette decided he was having some of this action too, and offered “Ratatouille.” A fantastic UC special starter saw us given Kirkcaldy and Blenheim Palace – the birthplaces of the historical figures on the £20 and £5 notes, and asked what £10 would be. Mary Lobo worked out that it was Jane Austen, so had to be Hampshire. Lovely question that. The music bonuses, three more leitmotifs used in film soundtracks, provided just the one bonus, but more importantly brought the scores level. At this point you’d have been forgiven for thinking that both teams had a very good chance of reaching the magic target of 150, which would at least guarantee a repechage slot. Nobody knew the lagest city of Bolivia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Nobody knew Sir George Grove for the next starter either. My lap of honour finally materialised with the next starter, a lovely UC special which involved working out that if you multiplied helium- 2 on the periodic table – by beryllium – 4 then you got oxygen – 8. Matthew Le Croisette took a little longer than I did. The next three bonuses were all connected with gyres. It seemed a long time since Downing had answered a starter, but Bovey Zheng identified Spurn Head as being in the Humber estuary. One correct answer put them into triple figures. However LMH were the leaders by 5 at just after the 20 minute mark.

For the second picture starter we saw a detail of a painting, in which a small bird was depicted. I’ll be honest, style and colours screamed Rousseau to me, and also to Isaac Brown I dare say. More details from paintings in which birds were depicted brought them two more correct answers. Now, when you’re behind, I’ve always said that you’re better off being hung for a sheep rather than a lamb, so I don’t blame Naivasha Pratt-Jarvis for giving it a lash on the next question. However she came in after just hearing “Which Spanish artist – “ and let’s be fair, there are 4 hardy Spanish artist perennials which often feature in UC questions. She gave us Velazquez, she might just as well have said ‘Picasso’ or Dali’ but the answer was Goya, which became clear with the full question. Isaac Brown had that. Bonuses on the works of Stephen Hawking were enough to bring LMH the magic total of 150, so whatever happened we’d be seeing them again. Nobody recognised surgical retractors for the next starter. Bovey Zheng gave Downing some hope, knowing that osier and other trees are species of willow. Winners of the Copa Libertadores Trophy brought just one bonus, and they were still going to need at least two visits to the table to reach the repechage at least. Pranoy Chaudhuri-Vayalambrone provided one of the starters they needed, completing a Dorothy Parker couplet with doubt. Two bonuses took them to 130, just a starter and two bonuses away from safety. I was surprised that nobody could work out that the two of Kipling’s six honest serving men which are anagrams of each other are how and who. Neither team worked out Samuel Coleridge-Taylor for the next starter. Now, I knew that the only world war year in which a census could have taken place was 1941, so that had to be the year ending in a 1 when a census wasn’t taken. I don’t know if Robert Jackson used the same reckoning to work it out, but he came up with the same answer. Two bonuses on the Pacific Islands to qualify, and three to win. They took the first, but were cruelly gonged before answering the second.

Let’s get the technicalities out of the way first. Jesus, Oxford, Durham and Downing all scored 145. So the two teams going through which will be revealed next week, will eb the ones who needed to hear the fewest questions to reach their total. Fair enough. Got to separate them somehow.

This was a terrific contest, and an exciting match. I don’t think either of them were amongst the best teams we’ve seen all series, but hey, it was a good show. Let’s settle for that.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

A little aside, when JP dubbed churros as ‘the slimmer’s friend’ was pretty much all there was from him in the first ten minutes or so. In the music starter his reaction of “Noooooooo!!!!” when Robert Jackson offered “The Godfather” for “The Third Man” was exaggerated beyond it’s natural lifespan. Matthew Le Croisette’s follow up suggestion of Ratatouille gave him the opportunity to respond in high dudgeon, “Ratatouille?!” then administer the coup de grace with the put down “meretricious offerings!”.

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

Loads and loads of things I didn’t know in this, but none of them so interesting that they stuck out for me. Sorry.


Jack said...

My guess is that Durham will definitely be through given they needed one fewer starter to get to their total. Jesus and Downing both needed the same starters, and both got the same number of bonuses; Downing heard one bonus fewer than Jesus, so I would probably put them through. But UCStats on Twitter says Jesus answered a higher percentage of the overall starters asked in their match, so maybe they should get through. We'll find out either tomorrow or next Monday I guess.

As for the match in question, it was a solid enough contest between two solid enough teams, though I suspect Lady Margaret Hall may need to up their game slightly if they're to make progress. said...

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Unknown said...

Hi David
I can't see any reviews since November 2019 and I'm very keen to read your review of episode 23, basically because I won it!
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
David F