Monday, 26 August 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 7: Brasenose vs Manchester

So, off we went on another UC outing, following on from a repeat of an old Only Connect Champion of Champions shown beforehand, and a weekend that saw Gok Wan (possibly) break the record for the smallest amount won by a celeb for charity on a gameshow, winning 10p on Celebrity DoND.

Brasenose College is one of the smallest colleges in Oxford, founded in 1509. Alumni include Michael Palin, John Mortimer and a certain Mr D. Cameron. Tonight was the college's first UC appearance since 2002-03, when they lost their first match to Cranfield on a tie-break, and were narrowly denied a place in the repechage via a three-way tie for the last two places. Tonight's quartet were:
Joshua Phillips, from Radlett in Hertfordshire, studying English Language and Literature
James Burt, from Colchester, studying Law
Captain: Ben Ralph, from London, studying Maths and Philosophy
Turner Edwards, from Los Angeles, studying Classics and French

Now, what can one say about Manchester University? Since the 2004-05 series, they have sent a brilliant team every year (except 2010-11, which they sat out), reaching at least the semi-finals on all eight occasions, with five teams reaching the final and three winning it (plus a fourth default win following that disqualification business no-one talks about). Last year's team got off to a shaky start, before powering through the contest to the title, with a loss in the QFs proving but a brief blip. No pressure on this year's quarter to match that standard then! They were:
Ed Woudhuysen, from London, studying History
Joe Day, from Bideford in Devon, studying Physics with Astrophysics
Captain: Elizabeth Mitchell, from Birmingham, studying PPE
Jonathan Collings, from Manchester, studying Geography

I'm guessing that Mr Woudhuysen is in some way related to George Woudhuysen, who captained St John's College Oxford to second place four series ago.

Until last year, Manchester usually ran away with their first match. Brasenose weren't going to let that happen though, and, through the first phase, kept well in touch of them. After the first picture round, on orchestra sections, Manchester led by 50-20.

Brasenose quickly caught up again, and took back the lead, leading to a good set of bonuses on places names beginning with the names of Greek letters. And (what looked like) a complete guess pulled the Oxford side further ahead. But Manchester soon caught up with them, drawing the score, and then took back the lead with the music round, on actors singing in musicals; Miss Mitchell quickly identified Colin Firth for the starter, much to Paxo's amusement.

Manchester now led by 95-80, and pulled further away with the next starter. But then they lost five on an unlucky early buzz, and Brasenose failed to capitalise, buzzing but not answering. But another starter for the Oxford side made up for that, but no bonuses followed. The second picture starter was David Haig portraying the Rt Hon Jim Hacker in the recent redone series of Yes Prime Minister, which I haven't seen, and if I did, I wouldn't think it would be as good as the classic series with Paul Eddington.

Neither team got that picture starter, before Miss Mitchell just beat Mr Ralph to the buzzer on the next starter, giving Manchester the picture bonuses. The side now led by 130-90. Another starter, and a full set of bonuses gave Manchester enough points to ensure they'd get into the repechage at least.

But could Brasenose yet pull back? They tried, with Turner Edwards getting the next starter, earning a set of bonuses on Premier League runners-up who never actually won it. But that was as far as they could go, as Manchester dominated the remainder of the match, and pulled away into a commanding lead. At the gong, they had won by 215-105, though I'd say it was a closer match than that.

Still, another good performance by Manchester, which certainly shows they have potential to reach the QFs at least. But a gallant effort by Brasenose, who were a decent team, and it's a shame we won't see them again. Messrs Burt, Ralph and Edwards all got two starters each for the Oxford side, which helped them answer 9 out of 18 bonuses correctly. Miss Mitchell was Manchester's best buzzer with four starters, and the side managed 20 bonuses out of 36, with one penalty.

Next week's match: Keele vs Liverpool

Monday, 19 August 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 6: SOAS vs Southampton

Well, here we go again people, after a weekend that felt weird due to there being no DoND (the weekend shows having been discontinued as of now), and also Friday's show being mysteriously replaced with a repeat, for reasons that sleuthing has since made clear. Things should be restored to normality on that front now. But enough of that; on with UC.

SOAS, or the School of Oriental and African Studies to give its full name, is part of the University of London, and it was founded in 1916. Alumni include Enoch Powell, Ang San Suu Kyi, and comedian Dom Joly. It last sent a team back in 2007-08, where they lost to Exeter in the second round after only narrowly winning their first match. This year's foursome were:
Mave Weber, from Knebworth in Hertforshire, studying Ancient Near East Studies
Luke Vivian-Neal, from Lusaka in Zambia, studying Chinese
Captain: Peter McKean, from Wallington in South London, studying African History
James Figueroa, from Surrey, studying African Studies and Development Studies

Southampton University began life in the 19th century, and became a full university in 1952. Alumni include Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Jeremy Hardy, and KP from Bother's Bar and the (DoND) forum. A team from the university last appeared three series ago, where they lost a low scoring first round match to Newnham College Cambridge. This year's team, which included LAM and JOW reader Cromarty(IV), were:
David Bishop, from Reading, studying Physics
Richard Evans, from Frimley in Surrey, studying Chemistry
Captain: Bob de Caux, from Haywards Heath, studying Complex Systems Simulation
Matt Loxham, from Preston, studying Respiratory Toxicology

Some very interesting sounding subjects tonight!

It started very even indeed, with the two teams sharing the first two starters, and getting all the bonuses that came with them. After the first picture round, on scout badges it was 45-all, due to both teams getting two starters (one of which was a good buzz from Mr Figueroa) and only missing one bonus each.

After this, though, the teams began to separate, with SOAS beginning to pull away, with better work on the buzzer. There didn't seem to be any one person getting all the starters they got; all were contributing, which, as is always a sign of a good team. It was also nice to see a mature student on the team in the form of Ms Weber; funny that we should get one now, as just this afternoon, I was reading an old discussion on this blog from earlier in the year discussing the appropriateness of teams with multiple mature students.

The music starter was a piece of Chopin that I got almost instantly, having heard it on this show before! Southampton got the starter eventually, and the bonuses helped them close the gap to 95-75. But SOAS were continuing to get starters, and were beginning to pull out a strong lead. On once occasion, Mr McKean was about to answer, but his teammates corrected him just in time, which Paxo did not let go without a remark!

By the second picture round, on works of art entitled 'The Kiss', SOAS's lead had reached 170-90, and they looked home and dry. Just to make us sure, Mr Vivian-Neal, who has been quiet for most of the match, began an impressive run of three starters, including one on Arabic, which Paxo remarked his team had to get really!

Mr Vivian-Neal's fourth consecutive buzz turned out to be a wrong one, which lost his team five, and allowed Southampton back into the game. Even though they had no chance of pulling it back, could they at least make it into the repechage list? Yes, they could! In fact, they more than could! Mr McKean managed one final starter before the gong, and we got one final laugh when Paxo stumbled over the bonus subject, and the gong went before he could correct himself! SOAS had won, 230-155.

Bad luck Cromarty(IV) and co, but a respectable effort that might just be enough for the repechage. We shall see, but, if this impressive high scoring form continues, it may be more borderline than you'd imagine. But well done SOAS for a very impressive performance, probably the second best this series so far behind Trinity. That final starter made Mr McKean the London side's best buzzer, with four starters, which was also Southampton's best tally, managed by Matt Loxham. Southampton managed a respectable 15 bonuses out of 24, while the Londoners ended with a very good 23 out of 33 (with one late penalty).

Next week's match: Brasenose College Oxford vs Manchester. I don't know which team I feel more sorry for: Brasenose for having to play Manchester, or Manchester for having to live up the high standards of their past two predecessors!

Monday, 12 August 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 5: Loughborough vs Clare

Well, first of all, I have to mention today's Deal or No Deal, where Paddy Roberts became the first male to win the £250,000 Jackpot! Many congratulations to him once again! I highly recommend you look the game up. And what better way to calm down from all that excitement than UC?

Loughborough University is a technological university founded in 1966, though it had existed in a different form since 1909. It last sent a team to UC four years ago, where they narrowly beat U.C.L. in the first round, before narrowly losing to eventual runners-up St John's College Oxford in Round 2. Playing for them tonight were:
Ali Thornton, from Penicuik, studying Banking, Finance and Management
Cathy Morten, from Southampton, studying Aeronautical Engineering
Captain: Grant Craig, from Falkirk, studying Analytical Chemistry
Katie Spalding, from Ipswich, studying Maths

Clare College is the second oldest college in Cambridge after Peterhouse, founded in 1326. The last team from the college appeared two years ago, where they reached the quarter-finals before losing possibly the best UC match of the revival to Manchester by 270-250! This year's foursome were:
Tom Watson, from Navenby in Lincolnshire, studying Chinese studies
Carys Redman-White, from Hampshire, studying Veterinary Medicine
Captain: Tom Wright, from Sevenoaks, studying Theology
Mark Chonofsky, from Boston, studying Physics

I wonder if Miss Redman-White is related to Nye Redman-White, captain of last year's team from Sidney Sussex College, who was also from Hampshire?

Clare had the better of the early exchanges, generally getting more starters, though they did incur a penalty as well. Despite this, they seemed to be converting bonuses well, and, after the first picture round, on crests of recently promoted Premier League teams, they lead 85-15.

Loughborough then fought back, with Mr Thornton getting a run of starters, including one on Bradley Wiggins' victory speech after winning the Tour de France, which amused Paxo greatly! An accidental buzz during the bonuses went mysteriously unremarked upon by Paxo. By the music round, on pop songs featuring a string section, Loughborough had closed the gap, and it was now 85-all!

Clare sprung back into action, getting two starters in a row, and provided much hilarity by answering a complex science bonus they didn't know with 'Jeff'! "If only it were" remarked an amused Paxo! The host's expression then turned to disbelief when Loughborough provided, what he thought was, a silly answer to the second picture starter!

After the bonuses, Clare led by 145-100. Still very much up for grabs. And, with five minutes to go, Loughborough captain Grant Craig began a run on the buzzer, getting three starters in a row, and closing the gap to just five points. Mark Chonofsky took a crucial starter for Clare, giving them more room for manoeuvre, and when Loughborough lost five on the next starter, the match was won. Clare took the win, by 195-155.

Another good match well played by both sides, and Loughborough's score may well be enough for the repechage. The two captains were their respective sides' best buzzers: Grant Craig got five starters for Loughborough, and Tom Wright managed six for Clare. On the bonuses, Loughborough managed 14 out of 27, while the Cambridge side got 20 out of 28. Both sides incurred one penalty.

Next week's match: S.O.A.S. vs Southampton (good luck Cromarty(IV)!)

Only Connect: Series 7: Semi-Final 2 and Grand Final

OK, sorry once again for the long wait, but I've got a spare moment now, so, here's a very short summary of what happened in the second Only Connect semi two weeks ago, and the Grand Final a week ago.

The second semi-final first, which was won comfortably by the Francophiles (Ian Clark, Mark Walton and Sam Goodyear), beating the Cartophiles (Colin Kidd, Josh Mandel and Mark Cooper) by 29-19. It wasn't easy to start with, with the Cartophiles leading after the first round. But then in the second round, the Francophiles pulled away. Both sides got a full ten on their walls, but the Francophiles were now comfortably ahead, and maintained their lead in the final round.

Which set up a France vs Wales final, with the Francophiles taking on the Celts (Beverley Downes, Hugh Pritchard and David Pritchard, the last two of whom are not related we are informed). Both had made it to the final undefeated, winning three matches each, so little was between them on paper. However, the Francophiles had two comfortable wins under their belts (the second round, and the semi-final), whereas the Celts had only won comfortably once, in their semi-final. Whatever the case, it would be a good final.

In the event, the Celts got off to the stronger start, leading 5-1 after the first round. The Francophiles managed to close the gap somewhat in the second round, but still trailed slightly going into the walls. And here came the turnaround, as the Celts only got two points, and the Francophiles got seven, which was enough to give them the slender lead.

Clearly, the final would be decided on the buzzer in the final missing vowels round. It started off close, but the Francophiles just had the edge on the buzzer once again, as they have had in most of their final rounds. At the end of the show, the Francophiles had won by 22-14. But it was much closer than that suggests.

Anyway, well done to Ian Clark, Mark Walton and Sam Goodyear, who are deserving winners of the series. But well done too to the Celts, who would've been as well. And well done to all the teams who took part in this series. I hope the new format is maintained, as it is definitely suitable for the show.

I'll be back this evening with a review of tonight's UC.

Monday, 5 August 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 4: Durham vs Queens'

Good evening, from Ayrshire. First of all, sorry I haven't reviewed last Monday's Only Connect yet, but I haven't had the chance to look it up yet. I will try to review it alongside tonight's final, but I'm not guaranteeing anything.

Onto tonight's UC, and it was a good one.

Durham University is the third oldest in England after Oxford and Cambridge; it has many separate colleges, but they serve to provide accommodation rather than to teach, so Durham is only allowed one UC team a year. For the past two years, they have fielded a strong team who have walked their first match, and then unluckily lost their second. This year's foursome were:
Alex Richards, from Derbyshire, studying Chemistry
Daniel Hulme, from Staffordshire, studying Theoretical Physics
Captain: Matt MacKenzie, from Gloucestershire, studying History
Oliver Burnham, from Hampshire, studying Chemistry

Queens' College Cambridge is named after two separate Queens of England who founded and refounded it, hence the placing of the apostrophe. Alumni include Erasmus, Stephen Fry and Simon Bird from the Inbetweeners. The college last fielded a team three series ago, who reached the quarter-finals. This year's quartet were:
Paul Merchant, from Surrey, studying Modern Languages
Rachel Gregory, from Sheffield, studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic
Captain: Rhys Jackson-Jones, from London, stuyding Astrophysics
David Phillips, from St Albans, studying Maths

Off we went, or did we, as the first starter was dropped. Queens' got the first correct starter of the match, but Durham had the better start, leading 60-20 after the first picture round, on regions of Italy.

And they seemed to have the edge in the second phase as well, helped by converting more bonuses than the opposition. Mr Phillips impressed for Queens' by very quickly solving a complicated sounding maths question. Progress was briefly halted by two dropped starters in a row, until Durham put a stop to that. The music round saw Paxo stun everyone by reading a quote from Tschaikovski referring to Brahms which included a swear which I won't repeat here! After the round, Queens' trailed by 100-70.

Then, Paul Merchant of Queens' began a surge on the buzzer which, including the music round, saw him get five starters in a row. Soon, they had overtaken Durham, and were pulling away into the lead. By the second picture round, on writers from the 'Lost Generation', they had pulled away to a lead of 155-100.

But a very good interruption by Oliver Burnham bought Durham back into the game, and the lead was soon down to 25 points. The impressive Mr Merchant got another starter for Queens', and earned them a set of bonuses on MPs and the counties their constituencies are in, all of which I got. Then, Queens' interrupted incorrectly, and Durham shot in before Paxo could resume the question to take the points!

Another starter to Durham, and it was 170-all! David Phillips took a crucial starter for Queens', and two bonuses followed. Another starter was asked, but, just as Durham buzzed in on it, the gong went! Queens' won a good close match, 190-170.

A good showing by both teams, both of whom deserve to return one way or another. I would imagine Durham's score will be enough for the repechage. Matt MacKenzie led their way, with four starters, and the side answered 16 bonuses correctly out of 27. Paul Merchant ended an impressive showing with seven starters, which helped his side to 19 bonuses out of 30, with one penalty for interrupting incorrectly.

Next week's match: Loughborough vs Clare College Cambridge. Fourth Cambridge team to appear this series! And James Gratrex from last year's King's College team hinted on LAM that there are many more to come. We shall see.