Monday, 26 July 2021

University Challenge 2021-22: Round 1: Match 3: L.B.S. vs Hertford

Good evening friends, and here we go again! My reviews of the first two matches were a bit on the long side; I usually try and keep my reviews shorter in the early rounds and then gradually and subtly increase as the series goes on. So, I'll try and keep things a bit conciser this week, though don't hold me to that.

The London Business School is appearing in only its second ever UC series; its first, back in 2005-06, saw it impressively reach the semi-finals, where they were soundly beaten by eventual winners Manchester. The second L.B.S. team in the show's history were:
John Butterworth, from Bristol, studying Business Administration
Frederick Ruess, from Germany and Switzerland, studying for an MBA
Captain: Fraser Maddox, from Dunbar, studying for an MBA
Malia Valenzuela, from Lima, Peru, studying for an MBA
Hertford College Oxford has appeared twice before on the BBC series, firstly a first round exit in 2010-11; its second team, in 2018-19, reached the second round, and on it was Chris Page, who has since won £250,000 on WWTBAM?. This year's Hertford team was:
Matt Hitchens, from South London, studyign Philosophy
Bridget Donaldson, from Morpeth in Northumberland, studying Engineering
Captain: Matthew Lloyd, from Barnes in London, studying Physiology
Lucy Oswald, from Central London, studying Astrophysics
So off we set for the third time this series, and it was Mr Hitchens who identified JF Kennedy for the first starter; the bonuses saw the Oxonians guess correctly twice in a matter not that unreminiscent of the Warwick team that won last series, a full house. L.B.S. followed off the mark with Mr Butterworth doing their honours, but they only took one bonus from their first set. The sides then swapped starters again, Hertford taking a starter and two bonuses, before L.B.S. took the first picture round, on national emblems in the Soviet style; another sole correct cut the gap to 45-30.

The lead was increased again when Mr Lloyd (whom I wonder whether he is related to Jacob Lloyd of the winning Balliol Oxford team from a few series back) took two successive starters, and both occasions saw the Oxonians add two correct bonuses to their score. Mr Hitchens gave them a third in a row, giving them a bonus set on leprosy, which they got the same two correct of as I did. The music starter saw Mr Butterworth first to identify Fatboy Slim; the bonuses, on 90s pop songs that sample film dialogue, gave the Londoners two correct starters, to reduce their arrears to 105-50.

They increased again though when Mr Hitchens was first to identify the metaphysical poets, and, once again, two bonuses were taken (I knew the one they didn't get). Another starter and pair of bonuses pretty much put the game beyond L.B.S.'s realistic reach, but Mr Ruess did take the next starter for them; the bonuses, on Australian birds, saw them take one and give Paxo a scoffing opportunity with another with a suggestion of 'ostrich'! The second picture round, on paintings depicting women and snakes, went to Hertford, who took yet another pair of bonuses, which took their lead to 165-65.

The game was over as a contest, but L.B.S. did at least manage a late rally to respectability, with Mr Ruess taking two successive starters; one bonus from the first set, and two from the second, on poisons used in Agatha Christie novels, saw them deservedly reach three figures. Mr Lloyd took the final starter, identifying Rovers as the suffix shared by the football teams from the places listed; their bonus run ended when they only took one from the resulting set, but it mattered not. At the gong, Hertford won 180-100.

A nice match, with two pleasant and watchable teams, well played both! Thanks to L.B.S. for playing, and giving a respectable account of themselves. And well done to Hertford, a good team on the buzzer and the bonuses, could be one to watch in the next round; best of luck to them there!

The stats: Mr Lloyd was, narrowly, the best buzzer of the night with four starters, while Messrs Butterworth and Ruess both got two each for L.B.S.. On the bonuses, L.B.S. managed 8 out of 18, and Hertford a solid 18 out of 27, and there were no penalties all night.

Next week's match: Emmanuel College Cambridge vs St Andrews

Only Connect continued its first round with its third heat, with the Apollos, Tim Robinson, Rob Butlin and captain Terry Prett, and the Jukebozers, Bhagwan Manky, Laura Myles and captain Paul Mackely. The former led 6-2 after the first round, and an evenly scoring second round saw them maintain the lead at 10-6 (I claim 3 points on the Xbox question). Two perfect walls maintained the gap again, 20-16, but the Jukeboxers fared much better on Missing Vowels and came from behind to win 27-22.
Brain of Britain was won by Toby Cox, who I believe was on UC in 1998-99 as part of the second placed Oriel Oxford team captained by David Stainer; he scored a full six on his first round of questions and was never overtaken, though was run close. He finished on 14 points; Rachel Pagan and Michael McPartland, both OC alumni,  finished second and third with 11 and 10 respectively, and fourth participant Joyce Fulbrook finished with 4.

Monday, 19 July 2021

University Challenge 2021-22: Round 1: Match 2: U.C.L. vs St Hilda's

Greetings friends, and here we go again! Last week, the new series opened with a low scoring, but still close and enthralling contest, and, with any luck, we'd continue that form on tonight. Tonight, we'd be meetings two more teams, one from a very regular UC institution, the other from one that hasn't sent a student team since the days when DoND was less than six months old!

U.C.L. is the regular sender, having appeared 13 times on the BBC series, its best performances being two final defeats in 04-05 and 12-13; its last team, three series ago, were narrowly beaten by eventual winners Edinburgh in the second round in a massive Sliding Doors match. This year's team were:
Hugo Fleming, from Weybridge in Surrey, studying Neuroscience
Max Traeger, from East Molesey in Surrey, studying History and Politics of the Americas
Captain: Koshiro Kiso, from Japan, studying Cell Biology
Humaira Maka, from London, studying Medicine
St Hilda's College Oxford was last seen on the student series was in 05-06, when they were soundly trounced by eventual winners Manchester in the second round; a victory in the 2016 Christmas series surely went some way to atoning for that, also giving us the first all-female team to win a UC series. Tonight's team were the first mixed gender team from the college; they were:
Luca Chilvers, from Colchester, studying Philosophy and Linguistics
Akshay Pal, from Bolton, studying Engineering
Captain: Catriona Dionisio, from London, studying Classics
Chris Bennett, from Cobham in Surrey, studying Theology and Science
So off we set, and Ms Dionisio got her side off the mark first, identifying 'Miller' as the surname linking the authors of the works listed; bonuses on fictional islands gave them one correct answer, and also saw Paxo mispronounce the Island of Sodor as 'SODor' for not the first time on the show! (Maybe that's what the Rev Awdry intended and they changed it for the TV series!) U.C.L. quickly got going too with two starters from Messrs Kiso and Fleming, and a solid haul of five bonuses out of six gave them an early lead. The first picture round, on the names of Shakespeare plays in the language of the country they're set in, went to St Hilda's, who took a full set of their own to pull back to 45-40.

U.C.L. duly increased the lead again, but only took one bonus on astronomy this time. St Hilda's bit back too with Mr Bennett offering, what looked like, an educated guess of 'Murder on the Orient Express'; bonuses on teams that have won all four tiers of the EFL, also gave the Oxonians just one correct answer (I got Preston and Portsmouth, but missed Wolves). A penalty then pulled the sides level, and Mr Bennett then gave St Hilda's the lead, and two bonuses on volcanic eruptions were taken. U.C.L. recovered with the music round, on piano concertos performed by their composer at their premiere; one bonus put the gap back at five points, 75-70.

It increased again when Mr Pal made sure all four Oxonians had a starter to their name; two correct bonuses from a complicated maths set followed, as did another penalty from U.C.L.. St Hilda's moved into three figures first when Ms Dionisio took the next starter, and bonuses on John Keats gave them two correct. Two starters were dropped before Mr Chilvers took the next; no bonuses on Scottish footpaths were taken, but they did now have a potentially match winning lead. But then U.C.L. took the second picture round, on recent TV series developed from films, and took all thee bonuses, which cut the gap down to 125-90.

The Londoners duly took the next starter and two bonuses to cut the gap to 15. And when St Hilda's lost five on the next and they took it, they had pulled level, but couldn't get the one bonus to take the lead. Now a straight shootout, it was Mr Bennett who blinked first, and St Hilda's took two bonuses on anatomy, leaving U.C.L. needing a quick clean sweep. Mr Kiso took the starter they needed, and the first bonus came, but the gong went before they could answer the second. St Hilda's won 140-135.

A good close contest between two well-matched teams, well played both. Well done St Hilda's and best of luck in the second round! And hopefully U.C.L.'s score will bring them back too, but it'll be on the borderline I think; well done to them anyway on a good effort!

The stats: Messrs Fleming, Kiso and Bennett were the best buzzers of the night with three each. On the bonuses, U.C.L. managed 13 out of 23 (with two penalties) and St Hilda's... 13 out of 24 as well! So it was fewer penalties that won it. Also, all eight players contributed at least one starter, good to see so early in the series.

Next week's match: London Business School vs Hertford College Oxford

Only Connect’s second heat pitted the Gamemakers, Andrew Condon, Edward Pearce and captain Nicholas Nagata, and the Animal Lovers, Claire Heywood, Isabella Morris (UC alumnus, St John’s Oxford 19-20) and captain Emily Wolfenden (another UC alumnus, Warwick 18-19). The Lovers led 4-3 after the first round, which they increased to 11-6 after the second, which included another of those incidents where a credible alternate sequence to that TPTB had in mind was offered up. Five each on the Walls took the scores to 16-11, and the Lovers maintained pace in Missing Vowels to win 23-15.
Brain of Britain began its competition proper with its first heat this afternoon. Chris Kilbride won the show with 12 points, with another UC alumnus, Lillian Crawford (Trinity Cambridge 19-20) finishing second with 10, which might yet be enough for a highest scoring runners-up place. David Gregson and Clare Barrow, a finalist in the last series of Mastermind, also competed, ending with 8 and 7 respectively.

Monday, 12 July 2021

University Challenge 2021-22: Round 1: Match 1: King's vs Glasgow

Good evening friends; we're back! After an excellent Euros, the best since 2000 IMO, in which I finally got to see Scotland play at a major tournament, and England finally reached their full potential; I felt genuinely sorry for them last night, Saka especially. Anyway, what better way to get over that tournament being over than the triumphant return of Quizzy Mondays! So, let's get stuck in to the TENTH(!) series of UC I've covered on this blog...

King's College London is appearing on the BBC series for the sixth time tonight; it's best performance was actually last series, where they reached the QFs before losing both their games there to Balliol and Imperial. This year's team, no doubt hoping to better that, were:
Anand Sathyanath, from between Southampton and Portsmouth, studying Medicine
Rachel Bedwin, from South East London, studying Developmental Biology
Captain: Ashad Rahid, from Daventry, studying Philosophy
Oliver Beard, from South East London, studying the History of War

Glasgow is making its 10th BBC series appearance, and its seventh in eight series; in fact, this is the third series in a row it's been in the first episode of the series. Last year's team won that first match before losing to, oh, King's in the second round! No doubt hoping to avenge that loss were this year's quartet of:
Erin Thomson, from Glasgow, studying Physics
Nicki Fairbairn, from Ayr, studying Chemical Physics
Captain: Shaun Cairns, from Clydebank, studying Theatre Studies and Film and TV studies
Darius Darulis, from Vilnius, Lithuania, studying Computer Science and Physics

So, off we set once again, and it was Mr Rashid who took the first starter of the series, identifying orange as the colour linking the various given clues; the London side opened the series with two bonuses on famous quotations. Glasgow then took the next two starters, in fact Ms Thomson took both; the Scots side took one bonus from their first set on people with occupational surnames (I got Andrei Shevchenko), and two from their second set on astronomy. The first picture round, on locations of teams in the Netball Super League, went to Glasgow; no bonuses were taken, giving Paxo an excuse to have a good moan at them over their lack of geography knowledge(!), after which they led 45-20.

Mr Rashid duly reawoke his team by quickly taking the next starter, and bonuses on the actor Lakeith Stanfield provided two correct answers to cut the gap to five points. His opposite number Mr Cairns bit back and took the next two though; no bonuses came from the first set, but the second set on the African Union gave them two correct of their own. This took us the music round, with Ms Thomson winning the buzzer race to identify Johnny Cash; the bonuses, on musicians who advocate prisoners rights, gave them just the one correct answer, which took their lead to 90-40.

Five points were then lost to the first penalty of the series, which allowed Mr Rashid to once again take the points for his team; his side's bonus form ended as they took just one bonus on chemical engineering. Two starters were dropped before Mr Darulis ensured Glasgow's four players all had at least one starter in the bag; they took one resulting bonus on children's laureates, the same one I had. The second picture round, on paintings depicting monkeys, went to King's; one correct answer, from what looked like an educated guess, took the scores to 100-70.

And King's then took a second starter in a row for the first time in the game, and they took one bonus from the resulting set, only for those points to be lost to the first 'just an' interruption of the series. That was the first of two dropped starters before Ms Bedwin put King's within ten points, which became five when they took one bonus on unicorns. Next starter was far too complicated for either team; Mr Beard took the next to give King's the lead for the first time. Two bonuses on marine ecosystems were taken, and that was the gong; King's won 115-100.

A good start to the series despite the low scores, two pleasant teams gave us a good watchable contest. Well done to King's and best of luck in the second round! Hard lines to Glasgow, who will probably not be back in the play-offs, but they gave a respectable account of themselves, thanks very much for playing!

The stats: Ms Bedwin, Mr Rashid and Ms Thomson were joint best buzzers of the night, with three each for their respective teams. On the bonuses, King's managed 10 out of 21 and Glasgow 7 out of 21, with both sides incurring one penalty each, so it was a close match decided on the bonuses.

Next week's match: U.C.L. vs St Hilda's Oxford

Only Connect also returned tonight for its 17th series. Kicking off the series were the Scrubs, Anthony Martinelli (UC winning captain with Caius Cambridge in 2014-15), Maggie Huang and captain Sophie Lovick, and the Librarians, Chris Thorpe, Rachel Scott Halls and captain Kathryn Drumm. The Librarians led 3-2 after a low scoring first round, but the Scrubs turned it round to lead 8-5 after the second. A slighty better wall for the Liberarians saw them sneak back into a 15-13 lead going into Missing Vowels, where a very close and dramatic round ended in an 18-each tie-breaker! The Librarian won that, but both teams total deserve their respective returns.
Also today, Brain of Britain returned with its triennial Brain of Brains special. This would normally feature the three most recent winners and the highest scoring runner-up; however, 2018 winner Clive Dunning couldn't return, so two runners-up featured. In the end, David Stainer won the show by a single point over Frankie Fanko, who he defeated by a not that bigger margin in the 2019 final; Graham Barker and Hugh Brady, last series' winner and runner-up, finished not that much further back.