Monday, 30 September 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 12: Cardiff vs Exeter

Well, we began the series with a low scoring international match between Scotland and Northern Ireland. Tonight, we had another between Wales and England. So that balances out nicely, I guess.

Cardiff University began life as a University College in 1883, and later became part of the University of Wales, becoming independent in 2005. It last sent a team three years ago, where they lost a great match to Oxford Brookes on a tie-break, but survived to the play-offs where they lost to Exeter (bit of a grudge match tonight then). Hoping to get the uni its first UC victory since 1998, and also become the first Welsh team to win a series, were:
Eleri Evans, studying Maths
Sara Caputo, from Torino in Italy, studying History
Captain: Roderick Lawford, from Barking, studying Music, Culture and Politics
Tom Parry-Jones, from St Asaph, studying Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies

Exeter University was founded in 1955, though it began life as many different colleges which subsequently merged. In 2009, their UC team recorded the lowest ever score under Paxo, when Gail Trimble and co thrashed them 350-15; last year's team lost to eventual runners-up U.C.L. in the first round. Playing for them tonight were:
Tom Nelson, from London, studying French, Spanish and Portuguese
Finn Sharpe, from London, studying English
Captain: John Earle, from Exeter, studying History
Martin Gentile, from Taunton, studying Physics

Off we set again then. The first two starters fell to Exeter, but just one bonus followed. The next three starters were dropped, before Cardiff got off the mark. The first picture starter was dropped too, with Cardiff later getting the bonuses, on national flags featuring animals. They now led by 35-20.

Another starter went to Cardiff, before we got three dropped starters in a row, two of which saw Cardiff drop points. Finn Sharpe finally got a starter right, allowing Exeter to close the gap to five points. The music round, on the settings of musicals, went to Cardiff, and they led by 60-40 afterwards.

The next starter was added to the 'dropped' list, with Exeter incurring a penalty. They did recoup the points with the next starter, and a full set of bonuses tied the scores. Another dropped starter followed, before Tom Parry-Jones pulled Cardiff ahead again. The second picture round, on recipients of peace awards from the Soviet Union, went to Exeter, and the scores were now level, 75-each.

No chance of the repechage being troubled tonight, unless the teams got a move-on. Roderick Lawford identified Scott Joplin to pull Cardiff further ahead, earning a complex set of bonuses on words that are contained within the names of EU countries. Yeah, much easier when heard, that one. Another starter for Cardiff finally pulled them into three figures, and a full set of bonuses might just have been enough to win the match.

Or was it? An incorrect interruption for the Welsh side allowed Exeter back into the match, and a set of bonuses on four-letter place names in England pulled them to just five away from three figures. But that was as close as they could get, as Cardiff took the remaining starters; a late amusing moment saw Sara Caputo just manage to stop Mr Lawford in time to correct him on an answer! And that was it: the gong went within seconds of that, and Cardiff won, 145-95.

Well, I guess we were due a low scoring affair like that, where neither side really got into second gear; Paxo was correct when he said Cardiff's score was not very high, but it was sufficient. Well done to them anyway. Eleri Evans and Tom Parry-Jones got three starters each, and 14 correct bonuses out of 26 is fair enough. Finn Sharpe and John Earle got two each for Exeter, and 9 correct bonuses out of 18 is also fair enough. The problem was too many starters were dropped (with Cardiff incurring three penalties, and Exeter two); I haven't counted how many, but it was quite a lot to say the least.

Safely through to the repechage: Durham (170) and one of Loughborough and Southampton (155)

Next week's match: St John's College Oxford vs Downing College Cambridge. That's the seventh Cambridge team this series, compared to the fifth from Oxford. Later this week, I will have a look at the situation of multiple Oxbridge teams in another essay, I hope.

Tonight's Only Connect featured the much loved UC alumnus Jamie Karran, who captained U.C.L. to the semis two years ago, appear alongside two other UC almuni, one from his team, the other from another. Didn't see much of the match, but they won after a recovery in the missing vowels. Well done to them; hope they can do as well as they did in UC!

Monday, 23 September 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 11: Pembroke vs Somerville

So, off we went again. A third Oxbridge match, and the previous two have both been memorable for one reason or another. Also, tonight we begin to see teams enter the repechage; Durham would be safe tonight provided the losers scored less than 170.

Pembroke College is the third oldest in Cambridge, founded in 1347. It has developed a reputation for doing well in UC in recent teams, reaching the quarter-finals before going out to our old friends King's College Cambridge last year, and coming second to Manchester the year before. So, tonight's team had a lot to live up to; they were:
Mark Nelson, from Oklahoma City, studying Nuclear Engineering
Lizzie Colwill, from Woking, studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic
Captain: Harry McNeill Adams, from London, studying History
Matthew Anketell, from Sevenoaks, studying Natural Sciences

Somerville College Oxford was founded by the eponymous Mary Somerville in 1879, and was a women-only college until 1994; Paxo seemed pretty unimpressed by their decision to let men in! The college won UC in 2001-02, but have not appeared very often since, their last appearance being a Round 1 loss to St Andrews four years ago. Playing for the college were:
Hasneen Karbalai, from Calgary in Canada, studying Medicine
Zac Vermeer, from Sydney, studying Law
Captain: Michael Davies, from Blackburn, studying PPE
Chris Beer, from Blyborough in Lincolnshire, studying English Literature

Off we set. It was Pembroke who got off to the faster start, getting the first two starters. The second two went to Somerville, who's better showing on the bonuses meant they soon took the lead. The first picture round, on Celtic rugby team emblems, saw Somerville's lead rise to 60-35.

Pembroke fought back straight away, but Somerville seemed to be quicker on the buzzer overall. They also seemed to be getting most bonuses as well, which is a good sign. On one bonus, Zac Vermeer loudly and confidently gave Michael Davies an answer, only for it to be wrong, much to Paxo's amusement! Mr Vermeeer's answer was right on the next one! Mr Vermeer also seemed to be getting a good number of starters as well, but his colleagues weren't being left out.

The music round, on film soundtracks, allowed Somerville to pull further ahead, to 140-50. One question, on the only national flag to feature human figures, I knew the answer to, the exact same question having come up on QI XL last night! (It's Belize, BTW) Harry McNeill Adams knew it too, getting his side back into the match, and a full set of bonuses went their way too. But two incorrect interruptions in close proximity pegged them back again, and allowed Somerville to pull away further.

The second picture round, on artists whose lifespan ran over two centuries (as in born one, died another), went to Pembroke, but they still trailed by 195-80. Not much chance of a great recovery to victory, but they could still make the repechage if they got a move on.

And they did too, building up a head of steam on the buzzer, and pulling into three figures. Somerville seemed to go quiet as Pembroke pulled closer to the required score for the repechage. Zac Vermeer woke them up again, and the bonuses on sequels to novels added to their already impressive score.

Pembroke needed just one more starter and a full set to reach the repechage; the starter came, but just one bonus went with it. One more starter would do it, but Somerville didn't give them the chance, as they took the remaining starters. At the gong, Somerville won 255-145.

A good showing from Somerville, showing they could be a strong team later on in the contest. But very unlucky for Pembroke, also a decent side, as Paxo rightly said, to just fall five short of the repechage. Three penalties was what did it for them; Harry McNeill Adams was lead buzzer with four starters, and 14 correct bonuses out of 27 is a respectable tally. Zac Vermeer's five starters were the Oxford side's best, and the side managed an impressive 25 correct bonuses out of 38.

Safely through to the repechage: Durham (170)

Next week's match: Cardiff vs Exeter

Only Connect returned tonight as well; didn't see much of it, but a high scoring start to the series nonetheless. I will not be fully reviewing it on here this time, incidentally.

Monday, 16 September 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 10: York vs Bath

Well, it's Monday night, so it must be time for University Challenge. After two matches that were remarkable for different reasons, tonight's match was a bit more subdued, but certainly of note too.

York University, not to be confused with the Toronto based university of the same name, was founded in the '60s as a 'plate-glass' uni. It is famous for its ducks, which have been regularly mentioned on the show before, and alumni include Harry Enfield and Greg Dyke. Last year's team were defeated by New College Oxford in the second round; its best showing was in 2010-11, where they finished second. This year's team were:
Greg Carrick, from Hull, studying Maths
Brian Morley, from Liverpool, studying History and English Literature
Captain: Jeremy Harris, from Droxford in Hampshire, studying Medical History
Laura Kemp, from Colchester, studying Chemistry

Bath University is another 'plate-glass' uni founded in the '60s, and was originally the Bristol Trade School, which later became the Merchant Venturer's Technical College, and then moved to Bath later on. Alumni include Bill Giles the weatherman and Team GB gold medalist Heather Stanning. Last year's Bath team narrowly won a low scoring affair against Liverpool in the first round, before getting trounced by Pembroke College Cambridge in Round 2. Playing for the uni this year were:
Lilly Morris, from Beaconsfield, studying Politics with Economics
Calum Woof, from Send in Surrey, studying Chemistry
Captain: Simon Love, from Blyth in Northumberland, studying Mathematical Sciences
Jack Davies, from Buckinghamshire, studying Maths

Off we set, and York had by far the better of the earlier exchanges, getting all of the starters in the first phase. Bath did buzz in on a couple, but York had the right answers, which is what counts. Unlike Balliol last week, though, they were getting plenty of bonuses to back up their buzzer work; we saw how poor bonus work contributed to Balliol's undoing last week, as Dave Clark also noted over on LAM. By the first round, on noted British food producing areas, York led by 90-0, and Paxo already felt the need to tell Bath there was plenty of time left.

An amusing starter followed about a fossil nicknamed 'Elvis' due to how many copies it has! I guessed that, and so did Brian Morley, for his third correct starter of the night. Mr Morley also contributed strongly to a series of Star Trek bonuses, leading to Paxo accusing him of being a Trekkie! Bath finally got moving courtesy of Calum Woof, but just one bonus followed. York resumed normal business, getting a set of bonuses on parliamentary EDMs, which Paxo seemed rather amused by!

The music round, on film scores composed by Morricone, saw York extend their lead to 165-15, and Paxo felt the need to give Bath a second 'plenty of time left' check. It seemed to work, as Calum Woof got a second starter, but a set of bonuses on ballet proved no use to his side. Two dropped starters followed, before Mr Woof buzzed rightly again, allowing his side to better Keele's score from two weeks ago. The second picture round, on aviators, went to York, and the side now led by 195-45.

So, York looked home and dry, and Bath didn't stand much chance of reaching the repechage, but could they reach respectability. An incorrect interruption wasn't much use to them, but Jack Davies got his first starter of the night to lift them out of the Sub-50 club. But then another penalty dropped them back into it, and York added to their advantage with a set of bonuses about figs! They seemed to be scoring well on the bonuses as well as the buzzers, which is a sign that you're onto a good team.

In the final minutes, Bath managed to string two consecutive correct starters together, which lifted them to a more fair score. But, again, the bonuses weren't of much use to them, and it was quite sad to see the side pass on a full set in short order. At the gong, York won by 270-70.

Poor Bath. As Paxo said, we never really got to see what they could really do, though he did add "maybe we did, but I hope not!" Like with Keele, the side were clearly good if they made it into the show in the first place, and good on them for reaching a reasonable score at the end. Well done to York on a good solid effort on buzzer and bonus, but, again, I feel we will need to see them play against another team who are quicker on the buzzer before we earmark them for the title.

The stats: Brian Morley's six starters were York's best tally, just ahead of Jeremy Harris' five; the side converted a very good 27 bonuses out of 39, with one penalty. Calum Woof's four starters was the best individual score for Bath, who managed just 4 correct bonuses out of 18, with two penalties.

Next week's match: Pembroke College Cambridge vs Somerville College Oxford

Monday, 9 September 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 9: Balliol vs Peterhouse

Well, that was... certainly... something, was it not? I make no apologies for using the same opening sentence as last week's review, as it's a lot more fitting this week. It was an Oxbridge match, which guaranteed it would be memorable in some way; but who saw that coming?

Balliol College Oxford is 750 years old this year, having been founded by John de Balliol (hence the name) in 1263. Alumni include political figures such as Asquith, McMillan, Heath and BoJo. It last sent a team two years ago, where they reached the QFs before eventually bowing out to U.C.L., and also became the first team to beat the same team twice in one series (beating Homerton College Cambridge in the first round, and the QFs). This year's team were:
George Corfield, from Lamberhurst in Kent, studying Medicine
Michael Bennett, from Ickenham, studying Political Theory
Captain: Amy Vickers, from Chiswick, studying History
Robin Edds, from Luxembourg, studying Physics and Philosophy

Peterhouse is the oldest college in Cambridge, founded in 1284, and is also the uni's smallest college. Alumni include the inventor of the hovercraft Christopher Cockerell, and everyone's favourite ranter David Mitchell. The last team from the college appeared three years ago, where they impressively reached the semi-finals, before losing to eventually winners Magdalen College Oxford. Tonight's quartet were:
Mark Smith, from Colchester, studying Theology
Edmund Zimmer, from Twickenham, studying Classics
Captain: Alex Davis, from Dorchester-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, studying Physics
Melanie Etherton, from Exeter, studying Natural Sciences

Mr Smith, who I noticed was wearing a clerical collar, buzzed in too early on the first starter, giving Balliol an immediate lead. The Oxford side were very much in control during the first phase, getting the starters, but not as many bonuses as they could. After the first picture round, on HTML codes, Balliol led by 70-(-5).

Peterhouse got off the mark with the next starter, with Edmund Zimmer getting 50 Shades of Grey! (We'll inquire no further!) George Corfield was unlucky to drop five for Balliol on a question about a sporting event; 'rowing' wasn't specific enough when 'the Boat Race' was what was sought. Peterhouse took the points. They also took the music round, on bands who took their names from artists or art movements.

Peterhouse had now recovered from the shaky start, but Balliol still let by 90-45, and Amy Vickers pulled them further ahead with the next starter. However, Peterhouse had now made it into gear, and began to close the gap in. The second picture round was on actors who have received the EGOT, and George Corfield gave us the comedy moment of the night, buzzing in on the starter, and simply saying 'James', much to Paxo's disbelief! Edmund Zimmer took the points with 'James Earl Jones'.

Balliol's lead was now 130-100. And falling, as Peterhouse got another starter, and a clean sweep of bonuses reduced the gap to five. And the next starter gave them the lead. And, from that point, Peterhouse shot into gear, and raced away, with Messrs Zimmer and Davis acing the buzzer race, and pulling the side well into the lead.

George Corfield pulled one starter back for Balliol, but the side just fell short of equaling Christ Church's score. One more starter would get them into the repechage. But Peterhouse didn't give them the chance to get that starter, as they swept up the remaining starters, and built up a very impressive score, considering the shaky start. At the gong, they had won by 250-145. What a recovery!

Last week's trouncing was fascinating viewing, but that was just plain remarkable. Poor Balliol definitely didn't deserve to go out at this stage, given their good showing early on. But, as Paxo said, Peterhouse really went for it when they woke up, and they definitely deserve the win. Edmund Zimmer ended the match with eight starters, and the side answered 23 bonuses correctly out of 42, with that one penalty at the start. Amy Vickers' five starters was Balliol's best, and the side managed 12 correct bonuses out of 27, also with one penalty. A very unlucky first round exit for the Oxford side.

Next week's match: York vs Bath

Monday, 2 September 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 8: Keele vs Liverpool

Well, that was... certainly... something, was it not? Haven't seen one like that for a long time. And a rather unfortunate coincidence as well; see if you can spot it.

Keele University is a Staffordshire based institution founded in 1949. It won the original Bambi-hosted series way back in 1968, and that team later returned for the Reunited series back in 2002, which they came second in. Their last appearance on the regular series was also in 2002, when they were trounced by Christ's College Cambridge by 285-40 in the second round. This year's team were:
Austin Haffenden, from Eastbourne, studying Computational Ecology
Rob Croton, from Uttoxeter, studying English Literature
Captain: Harriet Earle, from Lincolnshire, studying American Literature
David Sharpe, from the Western Isles, studying Medicine

Liverpool University began life in 1881 as a University College, and it's buildings completed 11 years later gave rise to the common phrase 'redbrick'. It became a university in 1903. Its previous teams haven't had a great deal of luck, getting trounced (also) by Christ's College Cambridge in the first round three years ago, and narrowly losing a low scoring first round match to Bath last year. Aiming to do better this year were:
Catherine Monks, from Bolton, studying Classics
Daniel Jenkin-Smith, from Birmingham, studying English and French
Captain: Chris Spencer, from Salisbury, studying Tropical Medicine
Luke Nugent, from Southport, studying Medicine

Off we set, and it was Liverpool who struck first, dominating the first phase, with Miss Monks showing particularly good buzzing prowess. When the first picture starter is your fourth starter of the night, you know you're doing very well indeed! After the first picture round, on swing states in last year's US election, Liverpool led by 95-0, and poor Keele already looked to be in trouble.

And it continued, as Luke Nugent became the third Liverpudlian to open his starter account. However, a mistimed buzz from him on the next starter cleared the way for Keele to finally get off the mark, and two bonuses went with it. But this proved a mere blip, as Liverpool just continued the momentum, and the lead was just increasing.

Rob Croton valiantly tried a buzz to get his team going, but only resulted in losing them five much needed points, and another ten to the opposition. When things aren't going your way, and your opponents are hot on the buzzer, the only real tactic you can use is buzz early, and hope for the best. The music round, on classical pieces called 'the (something) mass', Liverpool led by 150-15.

Paxo told Keele there was still plenty of time left, which really means things aren't going your way. It sort of worked though, as Miss Earle took the next starter, and the side took one bonus. Catherine Monks, who'd gone quiet after that storming start, misbuzzed on the next starter, but Keele failed to capitalise. She was a bit lucky to get the next starter though, as she appeared to say 'K-H-R-A' instead of the correct answer of 'K-H-A-', but was given the points anyway. May have just misheard.

The second picture round, on the Canterbury Tales, went to Keele, but the side missed the old trick of giving the same answer three times and it's right the final time, not giving the same answer to the final question, when then their answer to the first two was the answer! Cue much hilarity and groaning! They now trailed by 180-40.

So, Liverpool were home and dry, but could Keele creep out of the Sub-50 club, and into at least three figures? Alas not, as the rest of the starters went to Liverpool, with the starters and most of the bonuses falling their way. Austin Haffenden, who had been buzzing in throughout the night, made one last attempt on the buzzer, and came so close, but didn't give the answer required. Cue Miss Monks to sneak in and take the points. And finally the gong came, and Liverpool had won by 295-40.

A very impressive performance from Liverpool, to score that many points. But I feel we will need to see them play again against stronger opposition before we mark them out as potential title claimers. But poor Keele definitely did not deserve to lose like that; as Paxo said, they must have been a good team in order to get on the show in the first place.

The lively and impressive Catherine Monks ended the night with nine(!) starters to her name, though Messrs Jenkin-Smith and Nugent both buzzed well too. The side answered 25 bonuses out of 53 correctly, with two penalties. Harriet Earle was responsible for all three of her side's correct starters, and the side managed 3 correct bonuses out of 9, with one penalty.

Next week's match: Balliol College Oxford vs Peterhouse Cambridge