Michael Hutchinson (capt)
Barnaby Stonier (capt)
Well, good evening to you all, dearly beloved. Shall we take a quiet stroll through the form guide before we begin the review? Reading beat Strathclyde by 175 – 110 in the first round, while Dundee had an altogether narrower win over Royal Northern College of Music by 145 – 135. Not much in it, if all were said and done, but Reading looked to have the advantage.
Michael Hutchinson, whose fine and successful buzzing has already been remarked upon in this series, took the first starter, buzzing very early to link answers with the initials HH. Bonuses on early Celtic and Anglo Saxon manuscripts yielded a couple of bonuses. Another good buzz from Michael Hutchinson saw him correctly identify the Edict of Nantes as belonging to the 1590s. Words and phrases and their citations brought another couple of bonuses. Now, I’m very sorry to brag, but allotropy, the answer to the next starter, brought me a very early lap of honour around the Clark sofa. Nearly killed me – I’m past the covid, but not quite back to my old athletic self. Sadly Olivia Russell came in too early and lost 5, allowing Michael Hutchinson to take his third starter in a row. This time the bonuses asked the team to provide the surnames to various historical figures, and this time they took a full house. This brought us to the first picture starter, a map of south east England pointing to the location of Royal St. George’s golf course. The inevitable Michael Hutchinson buzz faced JP with the dilemma all of us who have had pretensions to quiz mastership have faced at one time or another – do you accept just Sandwich for Royal St. George’s? JP did. Three more courses that currently feature on the Open rota didn’t yield any more points for Reading, but that didn’t matter. At the moment the big question wasn’t – were Dundee going to get any starters, no. It was, would anyone other than Michael Hutchinson manage to get a starter? Well, he took the next, but again was just a little fortunate that JP didn’t penalise him for saying ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ rather than just Lincoln, which is what the question actually asked for. This gave them access to a pretty gentle set on medical tests, and they took a full house. This meant that by the ten minute mark Reading led by 100 to -5.
Well, Barnaby Stonier took on the burden of turning his team’s score from negative to positive, recognising clues that were leading to the word estuary. Two bonuses on declined peerages reduced the deficit a little more. The deficit was further reduced when Jacob Spurrell explained that myeloid tissue is otherwise known as bone marrow. Bonuses on the physicist Abdus Salam brought a couple of correct answers. Michael Hutchinson, who’d had a very quiet couple of minutes by his own standards, buzzed into identify Estonia as the location of the Singing Revolution. Bonuses on Kurdish and Kurdistan brought just the one bonus. Nobody recognised the work of the Damned, a popular beat combo of the 20th century for the music starter. The big clue for the next starter was a provincial capital associated with a victory for the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War, but Jacob Spurrell failed to pick up on it, which allowed, well, it allowed Michael Hutchinson in. Going back for the music bonuses, three more records from Stiff Records’ early years brought two correct answers. I have to say, I too felt that Nick Lowe’s song sounded more than a little like Thin Lizzy. Neither team knew micrometeorites for the next starter, although Conor Philips’ ‘Green Elves’ wins the most surreal answer of the night. I cannot say that I was the least bit surprised that when the old chestnut about the sport invented by James Naismith reared it’s head, that man Hutchinson was in first for it. Reading took two of the bonuses on David Crystal (who I’m unreliably informed is called Balls by his mates) and were a little unlucky not to be given the other one. They answered that Eats, Shoots and Leaves was about Grammar and Punctuation. The way JP turned the answer down, I think that if they’d said Punctuation and Grammar I think they would have been given the marks. Michael Hutchinson seemed unconvinced when he buzzed in for the next starter with the element Indium, but he was right. Bonuses on schools of thought took them to 175 at the 20 minute mark, while Dundee trailed with 35.
Thankfully JP kept his ‘plenty of time to get going’ salt well away from Dundee’s wounds this week. Michael Hutchinson knew that Susannah Clarke’s second novel is “Piranesi”. Astronomical catalogues – I used to like Littlewoods – brought two bonuses and put Reading just a smidgin short of the 200 barrier. Barnaby Stonier denied them this for the time being, taking the second picture starter, recognising a still from the film of “The Day of the Triffids”. Now, I’ll be honest, the only other film with killer plants in it that I could think of was actually the third bonus, “Little Shop of Horrors”, - I’d forgotten all about the pods in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, and both of us only took the one bonus. Now, I nearly took a second lap of honour for the next starter. Any Swiss mathematician question that comes up, I answer Euler, and this time I was right. So was Michael Hutchinson. Literature and royal succession brought two bonuses, but to be honest, it was all academic since Dundee were just too far behind now to come back in the few minutes remaining. A horrible science-maths thing for the next starter saw neither team answer correctly. As for the next one, I only knew Margaret Island is in Budapest because I’ve been there. Neither team knew that one. Now, up to this point I think that all of Reading’s starters had come from their skipper. This changed with the next, when Margaret Ounsley identified the Olduvai Gorge for the next. Liverpools around the world didn’t add a lot to the score, but hey, it was all gilding at this point. Michael Hutchinson took the next starter to identify early films of Ken Russell. Parliaments of different countries brought just the one bonus. Margaret Ounsley took her second starter, identifying Bernadotte as the family name of the ruling dynasty in Sweden. The contest was gonged before JP completed the first bonus on alternative history fiction.
I know that I’ve gone on a bit about Michael Hutchinson in this review, but he really was the story this week. He took 12 correct starters by my reckoning, which is superb quizzing, and I don’t recall one quizzer dominating a match in this way since Freddie Leo a couple of years ago. Fantastic performance. Hard lines Dundee, but you won the first round, so can hold your heads high.
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
I knew that Winston Churchill turned down the Queen’s offer of a dukedom. So I’m told, she only offered it to him on the understanding that he would turn it down. However, I didn’t know that she offered to make him Duke of London.