St. John’s, Cambridge
Jonathan Chan (capt.)
Kara Malcolm (capt)
Yes, I know, what the hell happened on Tuesday? Or Wednesday? Or Thursday or yesterday, for that matter? Well, it’s a fair cop, guv. I know that I usually post on a Tuesday, but as it was I didn’t get round to Mastermind until Tuesday this week, for reasons explained in that post, and well, I always promised myself that if I was going to have a reasonable stab at keeping the blog going, then I wouldn’t pressure myself to post on a specific day if I just really didn’t have the time. So, sorry – I’ll try to be more prompt next week.
Enough of that. Let’s look at the form book. St. John’s have looked good value since narrowly losing their first-round match, beating both UCL and QMC of London. Emmanuel also lost in the first round but came good in the repechage. So both of these teams were already battle hardened, and this held out the prospect of a close match.
First blood was drawn by Thomas Clark, who, apart from sharing a name with my grandfather, knew the latin origins of the word trivia. St. John’s were unlucky to only take one bonus on events of 1991, offering Mercosud rather than Mercosur. James Wrathall opened Emmanuel’s account, knowing that a rooster is the creature appearing on various coats of arms that we were offered. The 20th century synthesis movement in Science brought me an early opportunity for a lap of honour for knowing that Thomas Huxley was ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’, but on a whim I spurned it for being a good old quiz chestnut. Two correct answers brought Emmanuel the lead. However, when I correctly guessed that Tar Camphor is napthalene I decided to take the lap of honour while the going was good. Neither team had that. Jonathan Chang took the next starter, knowing that Rothko, Pollock et al were exponents of abstract expressionism. Borges Book of Imaginary Beings brought us both a full house. So to the picture starter, where we were given a picture of a type of stage. I was rather surprised that neither team managed to dredge up proscenium. James Wrathall worked out the county linked by various clues was Northamptonshire. This earned the picture bonuses, inevitably more pictures of different kinds of theatrical staging. We both of us only knew the last one, in the round. So, just before the ten-minute mark the contest was very nicely balanced, with St. John’s leading by just 5 points.
I know nowt about restriction enzymes, but this was the answer to the next starter, and Kiana Ouyang took it. The physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer – (yes another member of the Who? family to us in LAM Towers), provided the bonuses – like me, St. John’s didn’t provide the answers. I knew the next starter referred to a postage stamp, because I remember a Blue Peter item from many decades ago, explaining the difference between definitives and commemoratives. Neither of the teams knew this. Kara Malcolm knew that David Fincher directed Mank in 2021, and knew it very quickly too. A UC special set on pairs of words that differ only through the addition of an extra letter T. I thought Emmanuel did well to take a full house and the lead. A Maths starter which made use of the word integer and I don’t even begin to pretend I understood was correctly answered by Thomas Clark. We both took just the one bonus on important prehistorical sites in England. James Wrathall made his third timely buzz of the evening to identify the 1911 Act of Parliament referred to in the next starter as The Parliament Act. Bonuses on Gonchorova yielded nothing, and still neither team could begin to establish much of a lead over the other. For the music starter Nicole Pullinger was first to buzz in with Holst’s Mars, Bringer of Glucose, Sugar and thick, thick chocolate. Now, the bars (Mars bars?) we heard were marked with an uncommon four fortes, to be played exceptionally loud. Other works with similarly extreme directions were beyond all of us. Jonathan Change knew that the syndrome whose name translates from latin as Horse’s tail is cauda equina. One bonus on Saturn meant that as we approached the 20-minute mark, they now trailed Emmanuel by 5 points.
Now, if you hear the name Maria Branwell, then buzz and just say Bronte. You’ll be right a lot more than you’re wrong. That’s what Jonathan Chang did. Literary bonuses connected with Iceland (the country, not the freezer centre) brought a single bonus. It’s always nice to see Snorri Sturluson get a name check though (not meant to be a joke – I studied Old Icelandic at Uni and loved Snorri’s work.) Nicholas Thatte took his first starter of the evening, recognising a couple of types of feldspar when he heard them. I’ve never played Conway’s Game of Life so scored nowt on the bonuses, but I think Nicholasa Thatte must be a black belt or a grandmaster, since he took a full house. None of us knew Angelique Kidjo for the next starter. Look, if you get a question about a move on a chessboard, 90 of the time it will be the knight, and the next starter was no different. Thomas Clark had that one. Two bonuses on intercropping followed and the arm wrestle continued. I knew that if a stadium in Naples was renamed after someone it was going to be Maradona, for the next starter, and Jonathan Chang won the buzzer race to give the same answer. A full house gave St. John’s a 30 point lead, and I believe that this was the first time in the whole contest when the gap between the teams was greater than the total points for a full set of starter and bonuses. Quite rightly Kara Malcolm was in like a flash to identify the work of My 4x great grandfather’s associate JMW Turner. (great great great great grandpappy was his favourite engraver). So the gap was down to 20 now. Later artists who, like Turner, were influenced by Goethe’s thoughts on colour, brought another 5 points to reduce the gap to 15. James Wrathall knocked ten of these points off by knowing that the Wittelsbach family were once the rulers of Bavaria. Events of years ending in 99 brought the one bonus that they needed to level the scores. Nicholas Thatte won the buzzer race to link Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize and Photo electric effect. Couldn’t have come at a better time either, and Emmanuel must have been tempted to hold the ball by the corner flag and wait for the ref to blow up. As it was there was no need to play for time since the gong struck after one bonus, giving Emmanuel a hard-earned win by 155 to 140.
A very enjoyable match. Do I think either of these teams will win the series. Not at the moment – but nobody is going to get an easy win over either of them. Well played both.
Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week.
The least dense moon of Saturn is Tethys