Monday, 24 February 2014

University Challenge 2013-14: Qualification Quarter-Final 2: Somerville vs Southampton

So, here I am again, writing about tonight's University Challenge. I really must start thinking of other things to post about on here as well. Whoever won tonight would join Trinity in the semis; the runners-up would join SOAS and Manchester in the playoffs.

Somerville College Oxford were one of the 'ones to watch' in the second round after beating Pembroke College Cambridge in Round 1; they have subsequently defeated York comfortable and Clare narrowly after trailing throughout. A team to be taken seriously, unchanged from their preliminary, were: 
Sam Walker, from Stafford, studying Physics 
Zac Vermeer, from Sydney, studying Law 
Captain: Michael Davies, from Blackburn, studying PPE 
Chris Beer, from Blyborough in Lincolnshire, studying English Literature

Southampton, of course, came through the repechage, and have since comfortably beaten Loughborough, before utterly trouncing Bangor and Queen's without ever being challenged. Something told me they might have a bit more a challenge tonight; they remained the same as before: 
David Bishop, from Reading, studying Physics  
Richard Evans, from Frimley in Surrey, studying Chemistry  
Captain: Bob De Caux, from West Sussex, studying Complex Systems Simulation  
Matt Loxham, from Preston, studying Respiratory Toxicology

Not much between these two teams on paper, with Southampton having slightly more points on aggregate. But Somerville points were earned against stronger opponents. Either way, hard to call.

Somerville started stronger, with Chris Beer quickly getting the first three starters. The fourth starter was dropped, before JOW reader and contibutor Richard 'Cromarty(IV)' Evans got Southampton going with the fifth. Neither side got the first picture starter, before Chris Beer took his fourth starter of the night, winning his side the picture bonuses, on logos of international organisations.

Somerville now led 70-20, and Mr Beer's colleagues might have wanted to have their buzzers checked to see if they actually worked! JOW reader Bob De Caux moved Southampton further forward, but a set of bonuses on eye defects proved no use to the side. Somerville moved ahead with the next starter, and seemed to annoy Paxo by sweeping up the bonuses easily! "Some people find these questions quite difficult," he exclaimed, "there's no need to dismiss them with such contempt!"

This seemed to rile Paxo, as when Chris Beer quickly took the music starter, Herb Alpert's performance of Spanish Flea', he couldn't believe he was so quick to admit knowing that! The side got nothing from the bonuses, meaing their lead was now 105-30. Southampton needed to get a move on if they were going to catch up, but Somerville wouldn't let them, and were soon well ahead. Matt Loxham did manage to bring the side back into the game, and a full set of bonuses ensured they wouldn't be joining the 'Sub 50 club'.

The second picture starter went to the usually brilliant Zac Vermeer, who'd been having a rather quiet evening on the buzzer. The bonuses took their lead to 175-55. Not much chance of Richard and co catching them, but they could still reach respectability with a good rally. Somerville kept on their buzzing brilliance, with two more starters, and two thirds of the resultant bonuses. With the match won, they then relaxed their hands on the buzzer, and allowed Southampton to claw back some ground.

Richard and co rallied in the final minutes, getting a few starters, and a good handful of bonuses, but just falling short of reaching 100; at the gong, Somerville won 215-95. Bad luck lads, but, like with SOAS, you were beaten by a good team, and did respectably considering; best of luck in your play-off, whoever you face. Well done Somerville; another fine performance, and we shall see you in the semis!

After that explosive early run on the buzzer, Chris Beer quietened down somewhat later on, finishing with six starters, while Richard, Bob and Matt Loxham got two each for Southampton. Both sides did good with the bonuses, Somerville getting a very good 21 out of 33, and Southampton a decent 8 out of 16 (with one late penalty).

Were this an old format series, we'd now have a final of Trinity vs Somerville. What a match that'd be; I have no idea who'd win that! Maybe we'll see it yet! We shall wait and see.

Next week, Clare take on Queen's, with the losers joining Cardiff on the way home.

Monday, 17 February 2014

University Challenge 2013-14: Elimination Quarter-Final 1: Manchester vs Cardiff

Evening all, from Ayrshire. So, we've reached the first of our two eliminator matches in the Quarter-Final process. Whoever lost tonight would be leaving the contest, while the winners would be in the play-offs for the semis. As Weaver said yesterday, it's odd how Only Connect does this process in an appropriate order, and UC jumbles all the matches up.

Reigning champs Manchester came through the earlier stages beating Brasenose College Oxford and Queens' College Cambridge, before losing a good initial QF to last week's victors Trinity. No change to their line-up; they were still:
Edward 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

Cardiff won a low scoring first match over Exeter, before beating the fancied Liverpool in their second match, but SOAS proved too strong for them in their initial match. Likewise, no change to their line-up; they remained:
Eleri Evans, from Pembrokeshire, 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

So, off we went again. Manchester got off the mark quicker, and dominated the first phase of the competition, getting the starters, and roughly half the bonuses that went with them. Cardiff got off the mark with the first picture round, on African flags bearing the colours of the Pan-African movement; they took all the bonuses, meaning the score stood at 70-25 in Manchester's favour.

Throughout the next phase, Manchester maintained their advantage on the buzzer, with Jonathan Collings, in particular, having a good day on the buzzer. Joe Day wasn't having such a good day (no pun intended), incurring three penalties during this time. Manchester's good buzzer run was what was winning the match for them, as they didn't seem to be getting many bonuses when they got them.

Cardiff did manage a second starter prior to the music round, and Tom Parry-Jones provided some hilarity by protesting when he was nominated! Manchester took the music round, on pop songs performed in French, including one from a Ms C. Bruni, whose album Paxo claimed to be surprisingly good! Manchester's lead now stood at 105-40, which was almost entirely down to Mr Collings' buzzer work.

Sara Caputo's buzz on the next starter lifted Cardiff out of the 'Sub-50' club; a good buzzer run now meant they could still catch Manchester up, especially given how they were faring better with the bonuses with Manchester. To paraphrase Cromarty(IV), they had most of the smoke, but Manchester, or rather Jonathan Collings, had most of the fire, meaning they had the advantage.

The second picture round, on paintings featuring flowers, went to Manchester; each bonus asked for both the flower depicted and the artist, and the side were unlucky to get all the flowers right, but all the artists wrong! The lead now stood at 140-80; Cardiff could still close the gap, but if Mr Collings kept buzzing like he had, you got the feeling it would be all over.

Indeed, Mr Collings struck again on the next starter, and the match looked close to being over. Three starters in a row were dropped by both sides, but when Mr Collings took the next starter and the side took all three bonuses, that was the match won. Still, Cardiff managed to end the match with a flourish, with Tom Parry-Jones getting two starters in a row, and lifting the side into triple figures. At the gong, Manchester's win was 195-105.

Another good win for Manchester, though not as convincing as some of their prior efforts; we shall see where the draw takes them next. Cardiff exited the contest with dignity, and, as Paxo said, going out in the QFs is perfectly reasonable, so good for them.

Jonathan Collings' virtuoso display on the buzzer ended with a final total of TEN(!) starters (making him the best buzzer so far this series with 24 overall), which made up for a rather low bonus rate of 18 out of 36 (along with those three penalties). Tom Parry-Jones was Cardiff's lead buzzer with four to his name; he ends his side's run as their best buzzer, with sixteen overall. The Welsh side converted 9 bonuses out of 15.

Moving on, next week, we should be seeing Somerville vs Southampton for a place in the semis (good luck Cromarty(IV) and co!).

Monday, 10 February 2014

University Challenge 2013-14: Qualification Quarter-Final 1: Trinity vs SOAS

It's time to get serious now, with the first of the Qualification Quarter-Finals. Whichever of these two fine teams won tonight would become the first team to go straight through to the semis; the losers could yet be able to join them if they won their play-off.

Trinity College Cambridge are one of the standout teams of the series so far, beating three very good teams from Christ Church Oxford, Peterhouse Cambridge and even reigning champs Manchester so far. The unchanged quartet comprised:
Matthew Ridley, from Northumberland, studying Economics 
Filip Drnovšek Zorko, from Slovenia, studying Natural Sciences 
Captain: Ralph Morley, from Ashford in Kent, studying Classics 
Richard Freeland, from Cowbridge in Glamorgan, studying Maths

The School of Oriental and African Studies, or SOAS as we know them, have also been convincing so far, beating Southampton (look what they've subsequently achieved), Reading and Cardiff, all good teams in their own right, by comfortable margins. They were also the same four as before:
Maeve Weber, from Knebworth in Hertfordshire, 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

Obviously, my mutual support tonight went to JOW and LAM contributor Filip 'opaltiger' Drnovšek Zorko and Trinity, but I had no idea which of these two great teams would emerge on top. As I said on LAM the other day, were the QFs staight knockouts, we'd now have a final four of Trinity, SOAS, Somerville and Southampton, which would be one of the best final fours ever!

So, off we went. Peter McKean slipped up straight away, sending his team to -5, and allowing Trinity to get off the mark first. It wasn't long before SOAS got going too, though Maeve Weber was lucky to avoid getting told off for pausing before buzzing; a full set of bonuses showed that the Londoners meant business. Our man Filip took his first starter of the night, but the side weren't doing as strong on the bonuses as their opponents, meaning SOAS were able to eke out a slight lead.

The first picture round, on maps of battles in war series, went to Trinity, and gave them a slender lead of 50-40. And the lead began to increase when Richard Freeland took his first starter of the night; even though they missed all the bonuses, their buzzer work had been enough to give them a fair lead. SOAS broke back into the match, but a set of bonuses on feminism didn't give them many points, with Germaine Greer being the only one they, and probably most viewers myself included, managed to get!

The music round went to Trinity, and the bonuses on waltzes by composers not predominantly known for composing such pieces, saw their lead increase to 95-55. Neither side worked out the next starter, but Peter McKean made no mistake on the next starter, and a full set of bonuses reduced Trinity's lead to 15 points. It went back up again when Ms Weber slipped up on the next starter, and again when our man Filip shot in very quickly on the next starter, and then appeared to single-handedly mop up a set of bonuses on glands.

Ralph Morley, who had been quiet thus far, now took his first starter of the game, and a second consecutive full bonus set meant that suddenly Trinity's lead was beginning to balloon. SOAS needed to get back into play quickly, but Peter McKean's second wrong answer of 'Poland' of the night didn't do any good, though Trinity missed the starter too. The second picture round, on artworks depicting couples, provided more wheat for Trinity's mill, and their lead had suddenly risen to 185-75.

The way SOAS had been converting bonuses thus far, a good run of starters could yet see them close the gap. Luke Vivian-Neal had a go at the next starter, but only succeeded in cracking Paxo up with a wrong answer that sort of made sense in context! No points to anyone there, but Mr Morley shot in with the next starter, and when Richard Freeland took the next, Trinity's lead looked to have reached a safe level. As if to confirm this, the side took two bonuses, and when Filip took the next starter, their win was almost certain.

But the points just kept coming for Trinity, and a couple of starters later, their lead broke 200. Peter McKean finally managed a breakthrough for SOAS, and two bonuses put them within five of 100. And when Filip made a slip-up on the final starter, Maeve Weber took the points to break the Londoners into three figures just in time for the gong. Trinity won the match, 280-105.

Well done Filip and co on another very good performance; a thoroughly deserved place in the semis, and we'll see you then! Well done to SOAS too though, who certainly aren't out yet, and with a good draw, may well make it through too, which would definitely be fair. We shall see how they get on then.

When they did get in, SOAS did very good indeed, getting 11 bonuses out of 15 (with two penalties). Trinity managed 27 bonuses out of 45 (with one penalty), and our man Filip got a very impressive seven correct starters; Peter McKean was SOAS's best again, with four to his name.

On a final humorous note, SOAS forgot to say 'goodbye' on cue, leading to Paxo telling them off, saying he was just 'going though the niceties'!

Next week, presumably, we'll be seeing Manchester and Cardiff, followed by Somerville and Southampton, and then Clare and Queen's.

Also, be sure to check out Cromarty(IV)'s extended views on last week's match, which I uploaded this morning. Thanks again!

University Challenge: Cromarty(IV) on Southampton's match against Queen's

Happy belated New Year to you all!  I can’t be the only one who thinks that this series of University Challenge is absolutely flying past us, but maybe that’s partially because I’ve just watched our Southampton team’s fourth appearance on the show!  We’ve made it into 2014, and here are my recollections and reflections on our face-off with Queen’s University, Belfast.

I seem to have acquired a habit in recent months of landing right at the epicentre of massive cultural events, and always a few days before Southampton has taken to the airwaves for UC.  Two days before our second-round game went to air, I attended the fantastic Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebrations at London’s ExCeL Centre, featuring speakers from Tom Baker to Matt Smith, and culminating in the world premiere of that day’s celebration episode.  Two days before the broadcast of our first quarter-final, I paid a visit to the Millennium Dome (as it used to be known), for my first experience of a major concert.  I’d hyped it up a lot beforehand, and I’m pleased to report that Taylor Swift certainly delivered a storming show!

These events each made such an impression on me that I was left wondering, both times, whether our upcoming UC game would feel anticlimactic!  I needn’t have worried either time.  When this latest match began, I felt that we looked much more at home with proceedings than we had done in the past.  Having made it to the quarters, we were firmly engrained in the series’ line-up, and after three previous appearances, you’d probably expect us to have found our feet here in the studios!

Proceedings began with a serious embarrassment for me: asked for a name that connects a French dynasty and a biscuit, I thought that it was probably going to be “Bourbon” until I heard the word “biscuit”, after which it was unquestionably “Bourbon”, but I was beaten to the buzzer by Suzanne Cobain.  As a massive fan of Bourbon biscuits, I really wanted to grab that starter!

Bob got us going after the second starter, which unlocked some enjoyable bonuses on astrophysics.  I briefly studied the subject during my A-Level physics course and have done an optional module all about it since filming UC, so we were relieved to be able to sweep the board on this set, largely thanks to our resident physicist, David.  However, I hope that our two-word expression “Big Bang Theory” doesn’t go down as a notorious slip-up in years to come (we were given the points for saying Big Bang, in any case)!  Well, even if it does, at least it’s not as bad as the American quiz show contestant who identified “alligator” as an animal with three letters in its name…

Starter no.3 gave me a flashback to a one-off radio quiz broadcast from Farnborough College of Technology.  I was a contestant on it when I was 15 years old, one of a team of six representing my school, and one of the questions that came up was “What is the atomic number of tungsten?”  Even then, my interest in chemistry was well-known, and I raised a few eyebrows by buzzing in very quickly and saying “74”!  This time, it was Jeremy Paxman mentioning “atomic number 15”.  I knew that all eyes would be on me, including from my family in the audience, so I had to get to the buzzer before too long!  When I said “phosphorus” and bagged 10 more points, I relived the “tungsten” moment.  (Appropriately enough, Fifteen is also a Taylor Swift song title.)

Following a bizarre bonus set about “bodily secretions”, starter no.4 sounded completely incomprehensible at first.  It was something to do with assassinations of two people with a shared surname, in 1948 and 1984, who were not related.  Something suddenly clicked in my head midway through the question, and I worked out that these mystery assassination victims were Mohandas and Indira Gandhi, thus giving me a double (although, thanks to a slip of the tongue, I came out with Mahatma instead)!  Our reward was a trio of bonuses on wars, which we all know are good for absolutely nothing, unless you’re on University Challenge.  The Pastry and Toyota Wars were good nuggets of knowledge to have, and the Emu Battle was a terrific revelation!

Interestingly, I remember knowing the name “Toyota War” pretty quickly while seated in the chair, but watching the episode live in Southampton, the factoid had slipped from the forefront of my memory.  Usually, it’s been the other way round with these answers.

David grabbed the first picture starter, which depicted the nationalities of the last five Popes and led into a bonus round featuring more flag sequences.  I always look forward to these, so we had fun identifying NATO, the IMF and (eventually) the Commonwealth as the organisations whose leaders were being depicted.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the UN was not on the list – that’s definitely been in a previous picture round of this type.

From there on out, the starters just kept coming our way, including a delightful incident in which Matt thought he’d buzzed in too hastily and sounded resigned to a -5 moment with his answer “Simon Rattle” – much to his amazement, this was actually correct!  Bob recognised the name Guggenheim for another quick 10 points – in fact, he told me this week that, watching it back, he had forgotten just how quickly he had buzzed in on that one.  I hadn’t forgotten, on the other hand, how slow I was in recognising the Warsaw Pact, despite it being part of the “20th century history” minefield that I am really interested in!  Interspersing these starters was a decidedly strange one that we haven’t yet deciphered, and which I think is far too much to work out mentally under the studio lights: “What is the smallest positive integer that can be written in the form 375a + 147b, where a and b are integers?”  Alexander Green and I took unsuccessful stabs in the dark before being told that the answer, apparently, was 3.  I can now see that 3 is clearly the lowest common factor of 375 and 147, but I would never have worked out in the studio that this could make 3 a possible answer – or perhaps I’m still barking up the wrong tree?

The bonuses were an interesting bunch as well.  It turned out that I knew a lot less about the 2011 census than I thought, and that the 5-hour organic chemistry experiment in which I worked with an azeotrope was actually quite useful, what with the term azeotrope being an answer!  As with the phosphorus answer, I really had to get this one in order to avoid being thrown overboard by the chemistry department this week!

Our classical music expert, Matt, couldn’t capitalise when Joseph Greenwood dropped the music starter, which allowed Mr Greenwood to ensnare the music bonuses with a very impressive subsequent buzz about Voltaire’s dying words.  A few starters later, Queen’s also got their hands on a bunch of bonuses about perfect numbers, including the old quizzing chestnut “what is the first perfect number?”  I had an immediate flashback to our game against Loughborough, in which I buzzed in to answer this exact same question in a different format (what comes next: 8128, 496, 28…)!  Perhaps we wouldn’t have been given these bonuses if we’d got the associated starter!

Around this time, the bonuses that we did sweep up were, to an extent, reminiscent of questions from previous games in this series.  Terry Eagleton came up again, having haunted us in our first round game with his critiques of fellow authors; this time, I guessed that the writer being described was Frayling (rather than the correct answer, Eagleton), which got me a telling-off from Paxo for “thinking of Sir Christopher Frayling”!  I confess, I was thinking of Sir Christopher Frayling, and I even knew his full name, but we didn’t have any other answers to fall back on!

Then there was the inevitable round on “films whose titles contain a word from the NATO phonetic alphabet”, adding to the running theme that was established back in the first three shows of the series, and a good picture bonus set on Russian writers – when he identified Dostoyevsky for the associated starter, Bob very narrowly avoided getting a “next time, you must buzz straight away” from our esteemed chairman!  We didn’t avoid getting a lashing when we failed to recognise the “unmistakeable” Chekhov, though…

If the 20th century history specialist, the literature specialist and the classical music specialist among our team had received their callings by the three-quarter mark, it was suddenly time for the ancient history specialist to pull out his trump card: on cue, David took a full set of bonuses about enemies of Rome.  Suzanne Cobain recognised the house colours of the Suffragette movement to land Queen’s a bonus set about “separation”, but I feared that the game was definitely over as a battle by this point.  However, since one of my guiding mottos is “complacency kills”, I didn’t want to let my guard down or take my eye off the ball; instead, I took a half-guess that Churchill’s “greatest capitulation in British history” was the Fall of Singapore, which turned out to be correct.

Geological periods were on the cards for the ensuing bonuses, one of which was the Ordovician, which – as Owain Wyn Jones of Bangor pointed out in our last game – is one of the three periods whose names are linked to Wales.  Now, for some reason, I have never been able to assimilate a complete timeline of the geological periods into my memory, so although I knew all the answers once they’d been proposed by my colleagues, I would certainly not necessarily have come up with all of them on cue by myself.  Devonian was a good one on which to finish the trio.

If I had managed to avoid a chemistry department lynching on the azeotrope question, I finally earned myself one in the last five minutes by suggesting that toluene is used in the preparation of dynamite!  The correct answer was nitroglycerin, which I recognised straight away.  I’d just been looking in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If it had been a massive coincidence that perfect numbers and Terry Eagleton had cropped up for a second time in Southampton’s University Challenge 2013-14 career, the exchange of answers to a subsequent classical music starter blew them out of the water.  Compare and contrast:

(FROM THIS GAME) PAXO: “..are piano trios by which composer?”
MATT LOXHAM: “Schumann?”
PAXO: “No… Queen’s?”
PAXO: “No, it’s Beethoven.”

(FROM OUR FIRST ROUND GAME) PAXO: “10 points if you can name the composer.”
SOAS, MAEVE WEBER: “Schumann.”
PAXO: “No, you can hear a bit more, Southampton.”
MATT LOXHAM: “Chopin.”
PAXO: “Chopin is correct.”

The gong was undoubtedly imminent.  I was keen to grab just 1 more starter, as this would take my tally to 5 for this game, and carry on my trend of getting one more starter each time I stepped onto the set (2 against SOAS, 3 against Loughborough and 4 against Bangor – although I’d forgotten about the South Sudan question from the Bangor game by this time, which was technically a fifth starter from there).  Miss Cobain stopped Mr Evans from saying “Evans” on one of the remaining starters, which was a humorous happenstance, but Mr Evans buzzed in on a knee-jerk reaction to hearing the acronym ECHR thereafter, identifying it as the European Court of Human Rights.  My blood boiled when I uttered those words.  I am by no means a supporter of the one-policy party that calls itself UKIP, but I would describe myself as a soft Eurosceptic, and the ECHR’s sometimes excessive diktats have been known to make me sit back and sigh – so mentioning it on an outlet of the pro-Europe BBC was not necessarily on my list of things to do on University Challenge!

David was just jumping in on a starter about long-lived British monarchs when he was gonged out.  He would have taken us to 300, so we had to settle for 290.  I can’t complain about not making 300 for a second time – I, and I like to think we, enjoyed this game even more than our previous three, with the starters and bonuses being particularly well suited to our interests.  Plus, our supporters in the audience for this game included the President of Southampton’s Student Union (SUSU, after which our feline mascot is named) and, for the first time, my immediate family, so we just had to stay calm and enjoy this one for them.

Commiserations to Queen’s: you had some excellent buzzes over the course of the game, but as Paxo said, I’m afraid we never really let you into the match.  However, having beaten hot favourites Downing in round 2, you’re definitely not out of it yet.  We shall see in a few weeks’ time whether you will overcome a second Cambridge college, Clare, in order to be in with a chance of semi-final progression.

We’ll see you in three weeks’ time, when we try to get past Somerville College, Oxford in order to catch a fast train to the semi-finals.  Place your bets!

Also this week: RIP Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?  You were a great inspiration in my formative days as a quizzing fan, but I’m afraid you ran out of steam some time ago.

Thanks once again to Cromarty(IV) for this input!

Monday, 3 February 2014

University Challenge 2013-14: Preliminary Quarter-Final 4: Queen's vs Southampton

It's University Challenge time again people. Tonight, the final preliminary quarter-final; after tonight, we'd know which four teams have one foot in the semis, and which four would be sent home if they lost next time.

Queen's University Belfast won a low scoring first round match over Aberdeen back in July, but redeemed themselves in Round 2 with a comfortable win over the excellent Downing College Cambridge team. They were the same foursome as before:
Suzanne Cobain, from County Down, studying History
Gareth Gamble, from Lurgan in County Armagh, studying Medicine
Captain: Joseph Greenwood, from Manchester, studying Irish Theatre
Alexander Green, from Lytham in Lancashire, studying Plasma Physics

Southampton lost their first match to SOAS (who are also in the QFs), but survived to the repechage where they comfortably beat Loughborough, before completely trouncing the good Bangor side 335-60 with the highest score of the series so far. They were also the same four as before:
David Bishop, from Reading, studying Physics 
Richard Evans, from Frimley in Surrey, studying Chemistry 
Captain: Bob De Caux, from West Sussex, studying Complex Systems Simulation 
Matt Loxham, from Preston, studying Respiratory Toxicology

With JOW and LAM readers Richard 'Cromarty(IV)' Evans and Bob De Caux on their side, Southampton had my support in that sense. But this should've been another hard to call match.

Off we set again then; Queen's hit first, and took a full set of bonuses. Southampton hit back, and also took a full set of bonuses. Indeed, we didn't get a wrong answer until the twelfth question of the night, a Southampton bonus. Like last time, Southampton seemed to be going for quick buzzes to pull away. After the first picture round, on sequences of nationalities of international roles, they had pulled away to a lead of 95-25.

And the Southampton buzzing spree continued, with Matt Loxham getting two starters in a row; he obviously didn't think his second answer was right, and was visibly surprised when it was! Paxo thought he was shaking his head in dismay at how easy it was! The side finally ground to a halt on a complicated maths starter, but Queen's couldn't capitalise, and Southampton's run promptly resumed. Soon their lead was nearly at 150, and a repeat of last time looked highly possible. Oddly, Paxo didn't give Queen's his usual reassurance that 'there was still plenty of time left', which was probably just as well!

The music starter was dropped by both sides, but Queen's finally broke back in with the next starter to take the music bonuses. Alas, they couldn't manage any bonuses, meaning they could only reduce the lead to 165-35. And off set Southampton once again, with Bob De Caux identifying a question on books with deliberate blank pages, and then getting a second starter in a row. We then got a set of bonuses on film titles containing words from the NATO alpha-bet (badum tish!); I remember we had one of these in the first three games of the series, but none since.

Gareth Gamble managed to break Queen's back into the match, and a full set of bonuses lifted them out of the Sub-50 club, and equaled Bangor's score from Southampton's last match. Bob De Caux was rather lucky to get the second picture starter after a slight pause; the bonuses, on portraits of Russian writers, allowed the side to raise their lead to 210-60, and also annoy Paxo by getting an 'easy' one wrong! Matt Loxham took the next starter for the side, and a full set of bonuses meant their lead was probably now uncatchable.

But Queen's weren't finished yet, and Suzanne Cobain took the next starter for the side. One bonus followed, before our man Richard Evans took Southampton's latest starter. Two dropped starters in a row followed, before Miss Cobain gave Queen's another starter to their name, and one bonus bought within one starter of three figures. But that was as far as they could go, as Messrs De Caux and Evans took the remaining starters. The gong went before David Bishop could get out his answer to the next starter, and Southampton's final winning margin was 290-90.

Another fine showing from Cromarty(IV) and co, and another huge win over a decent team, meaning they may now prove troublesome later on. Queen's still managed a respectable score though, and we shall see how they fare next time around.

When Queen's managed to get in, they did alright, getting 8 bonuses out of 15; Suzanne Cobain led their way with three starters. Bob De Caux was Southampton's top scorer with six starters, just ahead of Richard's five, and the side converted 28 bonuses out of 45. For the second week in a row, there were no penalties all night.

So far then, the QFs have alternated close win-trouncing-and so on. Will that continue next week, with the first qualification QF? We shall see. (Good luck opaltiger and co!)