Monday, 24 September 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 1: Match 10: ULIP vs Goldsmiths

Evening all. An interesting match up tonight, two teams from the University of London, one based in London itself, the other in Paris! Yep, the first team from outside, what is currently, the UK to compete on UC under Paxo. Trinity of Dublin sent a few teams to the ITV series, and a team from 'Canadian Universities' appeared on the very first series in 1963 (props to Sean Blanchflower's site for that info), but the first foreign team to compete in the regular student series under Paxo tonight.

The University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP from here on in, as per Mr Tilling's calls) began life as an English language class in the Sorbonne, and grew into an institute which joined the University of London in 1969. Alumni include artist Francoise Gilot, newsreader Fiona Bruce and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall. The first ever team from the institute to appear on UC, they were:
James Dunn, from London, studying International Relations
Jack Griffiths, from Builth Wells in Wales, studying French
Captain: Liam Alcock, from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, studying French
Niamh Merritt, from the Isle of Man, studying French with History

Goldsmiths became part of the University of London in 1988, beginning life as a technical institute one hundred years earlier and becoming a college in 1905. Alumni include the artists Lucien Freud, Dave Myers of the Hairy Bikers and our friend Dave Clark of LAM. It last sent a team to UC back in 2011-12, who lost in the first round. This year's quartet were:
Kesheva Guha, from Bangalore, studying Creative and Life Writing
Ieuan Cox, from Halifax, studying PPE
Captain: Diana Issokson, from New Orleans, studying History
Jamie Robinson, from Belfast, studying History

Off we set again then, and Mr Guha took the first starter of the night with 'Don Juan'; the first bonuses, on Spenser's The Faerie Queen, gave them two correct answers to start with. Ms Issokson correctly offered 'pineapple' to give her side a second starter, and it was accompanied by another pair of bonuses. A prompt buzz from Mr Guha gave Goldsmiths a third starter, and yet another two bonuses, on fossils, went with it. The first bonus set, on flags with the colours swapped with that of a neighbouring country, went to Goldsmiths too, though the starter was dropped; two bonuses followed once again, giving them an early lead of 80-0.

ULIP finally opened their account, Mr Alcock doing the honours, but his side could get nothing from the resulting bonuses. Mr Guha restored normal service as he took the next starter for Goldsmiths, and his side broke their bonus habit by taking a full set, on films about Nobel laureates. Two starters were then dropped; third time lucky, Mr Dann taking the honours, but bonuses on James VI's daughter Elizabeth failed to add to ULIP's score.

The music starter was Ms Issokson win the race to identify Mr K. West; the bonuses, on songs involving the Roland TR-808, gave them just the one bonus this time, but they still comfortably led 120-20. The Goldsmiths captain took a second starter in a row, and bonuses on science in the 1740s gave them another two correct answers. Paxo felt the need at this point to assure ULIP that there was still plenty of time left; Mr Alcock tried his luck on the next starter, but to no avail. Goldsmiths couldn't answer either, and the next starter was dropped too. As was a bonus on a French playwright, prompting Paxo to exclaim "Zut Alors!" when ULIP didn't even buzz in on it! Goldsmiths finally stopped the rot on the next starter, and bonuses on Daniel Day-Lewis gave them yet another two correct answers.

The second picture round, on the 'sexiest philosophers' according to Existential Comics (yes, really), went to ULIP, who managed two correct answers this time, taking the score to 160-40. A second starter in a row went to the Paris side, Mr Griffiths doing the honours, and a set of bonuses on US first lady Lou Henry Hoover gave them one correct answer, enough to take them out of the Sub 50 club.

With not much time left, Mr Cox took what turned out to be the last correct starter there was time for; for the umpteenth time of the night, the Londoners took two correct answers, on book titles with SI units in their titles. The last starter was missed by both sides, and that was the gong; Goldsmiths won 180-55.

Another low scoring match, but a fun one made watchable by two very pleasant teams. Unlucky ULIP, but an entertaining performance and thanks very much indeed for giving it to us. Well done Goldsmiths though, and best of luck in the next round!

The stats: Mr Guha and Ms Issokson were the joint best buzzers of the night with four each, while Mr Alcock was ULIP's best with two. On the bonuses, ULIP converted just 3 out of 12, while Goldsmiths managed a respectable 19 out of 27 (with the night's sole penalty); not a bad rate that, will be interesting to see how they fare against a stronger opponent on the buzzer.

Next week's match: St Peter's College Oxford vs Pembroke College Cambridge

Monday, 17 September 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 1: Match 9: Bristol vs Queen's

Evening all. Well, after the discussion on LAM over the weekend about the 'freshening up' of Mastermind, I can echo Dave C.'s comments that UC need not be freshened up much either. Yes, there are a couple of minor things I'd change with the show as it is at the moment, but not overhaul it completely. But that's another matter, and possibly another article. In the meantime, on with tonight's show.

Bristol University began life as a university college, and became a proper university in 1909 thanks to funding from the Fry family of chocolatiers and the Wills family of tobacconists. Alumni include newspeople Alastair Stewart and Susannah Reid, illusionist Derren Brown and writer David Nicholls of 'Starter for Ten' fame. It has sent a team to the last four series, reaching the quarter-finals in all but one of them. This year's foursome were:
George Sumner, from South London, studying Physics
Owen Iredale, from Hadleigh in Suffolk, studying Biology
Captain: Anne Le Maistre, from Adelaide, studying History
Pushan Basu, from Newcastle, studying English Literature

Queen's University Belfast predates the opposition by a single year, having previously been a college and neutral alternative to Trinity College Dublin. Alumni include writer Seamus Heaney, the former Irish president Mary McAleese, comedian Paddy Kielty and actor Simon Callow, narrator of Monkman and Seagull's Genius Guide to Britain! (More on that later!) It last sent a team to UC two years ago, who lost in the first round. This year's quartet were:
Matthew Hooton, from Elm Park, Havering in London, studying Exoplanet Atmospheres
Maria McQuillan, from Limavady, studying English
Captain: Stephanie Merritt, from Surrey, studying Exoplanet Atmospheres
James Breen, from Belfast, studying Software Development

Off we set again then, and Mr Breen set the ball rolling for the night with Officer Myers' favourite drink 'rum' (sorry, binge-watching Death in Paradise again at the moment!); the first bonuses, on writers buried in Highgate Cemetery, saw the Northern Ireland team take a single correct answer. Mr Hooton took a second starter in a row for Queen's, and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry proved more to their liking, as they took a full set. The Queen's left winger took a third starter for them, but no bonuses came from set no 3. The first picture round, on French definitions of loan phrases, allowed Bristol to open their scoring; two of the bonuses followed, cutting their arrears to 50-20.

Mr Basu took a second starter in a row for the Avonsiders, and they took another two bonuses from a set on names differing by a single letter, narrowly missing the other, resulting in an amusing exchange! (I got Toro and Moro, one of the very first Jackpot winning answers I saw on Pointless the latter) Mr Hotton reawoke his side with 'scam'; bonuses on Atheist writers provided them with two correct answers to extend their lead. Mr Basu took Bristol back into the game again, and, once again, his side took two of the resulting bonuses, bringing them back within ten points.

The music round asked for the year when various pop songs played was released; for the starter, the teams were allowed to be 'ONE YEAR OUT!', but not the bonuses. Mr Iredale took the starter, and his side took one of the bonuses (I got one of the ones they didn't get), giving them a narrow lead of 75-70. A slip-up then wiped that lead out, but Queen's couldn't capitalise. A fourth correct starter in a row to Bristol took them into triple figures first, and two bonuses, on Welsh history, went with it once again.

The second picture starter in a row saw Mr Breen identify Thelma and Louise, rather appropriate timing given MoneySupermarket's new advert! The bonuses, on stills from films written solely by a female scriptwriter, gave Queen's two correct answers, leaving them trailing 110-90. A second starter in a row went to the Northern Ireland team, and another two bonuses, on mathematics, put them on level pegging, setting up a tense finish.

Advantage Bristol, as Mr Iredale offered 'platypus and echidna'; bonuses on minerals provided them just the one correct answer. Mr Basu then identified Aravind Adiga's 'The White Tiger' at the same moment I did (I remember watching Michael Portillo announce it as the Man Booker winner LIVE on the news at the time!); no bonuses went with it, but, at this late stage, you fancied just one more starter would see them home. A chance to seal it went begging as they lost five, but, again, Queen's couldn't capitalise, Mr Breen accidentally offering 'Voltaire' instead of 'Volta'! (Volta was wrong anyway) Second time lucky, Mr Basu offered 'Sanskrit', and that was game over. The gong went during the bonuses, Bristol won 140-110.

A low scoring match, but a close and enjoyable one between two watchable teams. Unlucky Queen's, a perfectly decent team who I'd have liked to see more of; nothing to be ashamed of there, thanks for playing! Very well done Bristol though, and best of luck next time!

The stats: Mr Iredale was, just, the best buzzer of the night, with five to Messrs Basu and Hooton's four each. On the bonsues, Bristol converted 12 out of 25 (with two penalties), while Queen's managed 10 out of 18.

Next week's match: the Univeristy of London Institute in Paris vs Goldsmiths

And, yes, I did, of course, watch Monkman and Seagull's Genius Guide to Britain before the show! Was especially pleased to see them go to Jodrell Bank, which I visited a few summers back! I await the rest of the series eagerly!

Monday, 10 September 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 1: Match 8: Edinburgh vs Sidney Sussex

Evening all. So, we're halfway through this year's first round heats, and it's a decent second round line-up this far, and a strong play-off line-up as well. I'd probably say Emmanuel are safe, as are at least one of the two teams on 150. Whoever won, or indeed lost, tonight though, would add to that collective. So, on with the show...

Edinburgh University is the fourth oldest in Scotland, founded by James VI/I in 1583, at a time when England just had Oxford and Cambridge. Alumni include writers Walter Scott and JM Barrie, Portsmouth's first goalkeeper Arthur Conan Doyle, politicians Ruth Davidson, Amber Rudd and Gordon Brown, and my Dad (who, as I type, is listening to the Scotland game I am trying to avoid!). After a four year absence from the show, it has reached the semi-finals of the last two series. This year's foursome were:
Matt Booth, from Bristol, studying Maths
Marco Malusa, from Italy, studying Economics and Politics
Captain: Max Fitz-James, from Burgundy, studying Cell Biology
Robbie Campbell Hewson, from Edinburgh, studying Maths

Sidney Sussex College Cambridge is of a similar vintage, founded by Lady Frances Sidney, Countess of Sussex (aunt of the poet Sir Philip), in 1596. Alumni include TV maths genius Carol Vorderman, political writer Andrew Rawnsley, and politicians David Owen and Sir David Lidington, the latter of whom captained the side that won UC in 1978, their second win, the first in 1971. It hasn't appeared very much in the revivial however, its most recent appearance being a second round hammering three series ago. This year's quartet were:
Ranu Thomas, from the West Midlands, studying History
James Delaney, from Fleetwood, studying Maths
Captain: Jay Vinayak Ojha, from India, studying Law
Isabel Ollard, from London, studying Natural Sciences

Off we set again then, and Ms Ollard set the ball rolling for the night with 'snout'; bonuses on heraldry provided them with one correct bonus, and an unlucky miss on another. Mr Booth set Edinburgh off the mark promptly with 'water', and the Scots side also took a single bonus, on English rivers. A penalty and a pickup allowed Sidney Sussex to reclaim the lead, and, once again, a single bonus, on women who played male characters in Shakespeare, went with it. The first picture starter was dropped, the bonuses, on characters in Russian novels, written in Cyrillic, went to Edinburgh (with their opponents also incurring a penalty in the process); two bonuses were taken this time, giving Edinburgh a 30-25 lead.

A low scoring game so far, and another dropped starter added to this mood. But it soon lifted, as Mr Malusa took the next starter, and another pair of bonuses, on particle physics, followed. Mr Fitz-James then made sure all four Edinburgh players had a starter to their name as he took the next starter, and, once again, two bonuses went with it. The Edinburgh captain took a second starter in a row, on the work of Wilfred Owen (a documentary about whom, hosted by Paxo, I remember watching during English at school!); for the fourth set in a row, the Scots side managed a pair of bonuses.

The music starter was Mr Fitz-James identify Genesis; the bonuses, on acts with books of the Old Testament in their names, only provided one correct answer this time, but Edinburgh had now opened up a lead of 105-25. A slip-up, which Sidney Sussex didn't pick up, looked like just a blip, as Mr Booth provided 'The World Series' for the next starter, and his side picked up a full set on the native names of European countries (two of which I knew thanks to Panini football sticker albums!). Edinburgh's left winger took a second starter in a row, and an amusing bonus set on the book Twitterature (which I may decide to seek out after this!) provided his side with two correct bonuses. The Scots side now had a 100+ lead, but Ms Ollard finally stopped the rot for Sidney Sussex; one bonus on 'spots' in art followed.

The second picture round, on paintings depicting Autumn (very appropriate), went to Sidney Sussex, who drew a blank on them alas, leaving them trailing 145-55 entering the final straight. And when Mr Booth took the next starter, you fancied Edinburgh were safe now. The bonuses on the polymath Thomas Young saw me do something I normally avoid doing and leave for my parents to do: predict the answer to a bonus! Thanks to our friends Monkman and Seagull, plus a famous bad answer from Fifteen to One, I just knew 'The Rosetta Stone' would be an answer, and it was! In fact, it was the only one Edinburgh took from that set. (Monkman and Seagull's new TV show starts next Monday at 8 BTW)

A prompt buzz from Mr Thomas brought more points to Sidney Sussex, and two much needed bonuses took them closer to three figures and respectability. That was all they could do though, as Edinburgh ran up the rest of the starters, Mr Campbell Hewson identifying 'Caesium' as one of the acceptable elements. One bonus followed, but it didn't really matter now; Mr Fitz-James took the next starter, and another single bonus, the same one I knew, went with it. There was enough time for one final starter, and for Edinburgh to take the two bonuses there was time for. At the gong, Edinburgh won 210-75.

A rather slow scoring match at first, but things picked up later on and it was still a very watchable contest. Unlucky Sidney Sussex, who never really got into gear, but thanks very much for taking part. Very well done Edinburgh though, and very best of luck next time!

The stats: Mr Fitz-James was, just, the night's best buzzer, with five to Mr Booth's four, while Ms Ollard was best for Sidney Sussex with three. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted a decent 20 out of 36 (with two penalties), while Sidney Sussex managed 6 out of 15 (with one penalty).

Next week's match: Bristol vs Queen's University Belfast

Monday, 3 September 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 1: Match 7: York vs St Edmund Hall

Evening all. Well, despite the heat last night, I think we can say summer is officially over now. Not least because Pointless has resumed. I do hope !mpossible gets another run in the 5:15 slot though, have enjoyed that in its slot over the summer. Regular viewers may have noticed UC and OC alumnus and LAM reader Rachael Neiman on it last week, winning Wednesday night's show. Now, on with tonight's business.

The University of York (not 'York University', that's in Toronto) is a plate glass uni founded in 1963, nearly 350 years after James VI, as I know him, first suggested founding one there. Alumni include writers Anthony Horowitz and Graeme Swift, former DPM Harriet Harman, journalist Kevin Maguire and comedian Zoe Lyons. It has regularly sent teams to UC this century, last year's team unluckily losing heavily in the first round. This year's four were:
Nils Boender, from Leiden in the Netherlands, studying History
Danny Bate, from South Norfolk, studying Linguistics
Captain: William Blackett, from Sunderland, studying History
Francesco Palazzo, from London and North Yorkshire, studying Medicine

St Edmund Hall is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford, founded in its current form in 1278. Alumni include Shadow Brexit Bulldog Sir Keir Starmer, writer and actress Emma Kennedy and comedians Terry Jones, Stewart Lee and Al Murray. It has only sent two prior teams to UC; one reached the second round, the other went out in the first. This year's quartet were:
Agastya Pisharody, from India and Basel, studying Material Science
Marceline Bresson, from the Netherlands, studying Economics and Management
Captain: Freddie Leo, from Berlin, studying History
Lizzie Fry, from Worcestershire, studying Geography

Off we set again then, and Mr Pisharody took the first starter of the night, on one of his home countries; winners at the 2017 BAFTAs provided them with a full set to start with. Mr Leo waited his moment on the next starter before it became apparent that Belgium was the country sought after. Just the one bonus followed this time (I got 'The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side'), but the St Edmund Hall captain took a second starter in a row, and festivals in Hinduism proved more fruitful, a full set there. The first picture round, on pairs of cities named after saints, went to York, who also opened their account with a full house, leaving the scores at 65-25.

Mr Leo took already his third starter of the still young match, recognising the settings of operas by Wagner; two bonuses followed. Mr Bate then unluckily lost five for misunderstanding the question, and for buzzing just as Paxo was finishing the question; Mr Leo needed no invite to pick up, and one bonus was sufficient to take his side into three figures. The next two starters were dropped, one of which saw neither side able to spell Stephenie Meyer's name, both incorrectly inserting an A into her forename. Mr Pisharody finally stopped the rot, and with the ensuing bonuses, St Edmund Hall now had a three figure lead.

It increased when Mr Leo identified Rossini's Barber of Seville for the music starter; the bonuses, on other overtures by him, gave St Edmund Hall two correct answers, and a lead of 145-20. It increased again when York dropped another five, but Mr Blackett then finally broke his side back into the game with 'Nancy Mitford'. Just one bonus, on creators of video games, followed, but the York captain then took a second starter in a row, answering 'Germany' after Mr Leo missed a chance to namecheck his home country a la our old friend Filip Drnovsek Zorko! Two bonuses were followed by a third starter in a row to York, but enzyme inhibition proved too tough a bonus set for them. Mr Pisharody decided they'd had enough possession and took the next starter, and two bonuses followed again.

The second picture round, on Old Master paintings that failed to sell at auction, went to St Edmund Hall, who took another two correct answers, giving them a lead of 185-60. Mr Palazzo took another starter for York, and the side took a full set of bonuses. A bit late now to catch their opponents, but could they score high enough to maybe reach the play-offs?

Mr Leo didn't seem to want to let then as he took his latest starter; his side took the one bonus needed to take them to 200. The Oxford captain then provided a further call back to a certain previous winning team by identifying 'Jean Luc Godard', and two bonuses went their way once again. And Mr Leo wasn't finished yet, taking the next starter, but no bonuses followed this time. Mr Palazzo took another starter for York with 'Black Mirror', and a full bonus set on African countries that border just two others gave them a full house and deservedly took them into three figures. That was as high as they could go though, slipping up and allowing Ms Fry to take the final starter of the game. No time for bonuses; at the gong, St Edmund Hall won 240-105.

Another high quality match well played by both sides. Unlucky York, simply outbuzzed tonight, but a fine effort nonetheless and a respectable score to go out on, thanks to them for playing. Very well done St Edmund Hall though, and best of luck to them in the next round! A strong first showing against good opponents, could be dark horses.

The stats: Mr Leo was by far the night's best buzzer, finishing with NINE(!) to his name, while Messrs Bate, Blackett and Palazzo all took two for York. On the bonuses, York converted a good 12  out of 18 (with three penalties), while St Edmund Hall managed an also good 22 out of 36. Both good rates that, so, again, it was decided mainly on the buzzer. Well played both sides!

Next week's match: Edinburgh vs Sidney Sussex College Cambridge

Monday, 27 August 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 1: Match 6: Strathclyde vs Durham

Evening all. An interesting match tonight, for me anyway; those who've been following this blog since its inception may recall that one of the very first episodes of UC I covered on this blog was the exact same fixture! In fact, had tonight's episode been shown last week instead, it would've been exactly six years to the day! Shame! Anyway, enough pedantry, on with the show...

Strathclyde University was founded by John Anderson of Glasgow Uni in 1796 as the Anderson Institute, becoming a university in 1964. Alumni include TV pioneer John Logie Baird, explorer David Livingstone, and musician Lauren Mayberry, whose music you may recall appeared on the show last series! As did the uni itself, who lost to Emmanuel in the second round. This year's foursome were:
Billy Hogg, from Paisley, studying Politics
Thomas Callan, from Stirling, studying Mechanical Engineering
Captain: Jack Pollock, from Gourock in Inverclyde, studying Aeromechanical Engineering
Catherine Ember, from Berkshire, studying Optical Medical Imaging

Durham University is the third oldest in England, founded in 1837; like Oxbridge, it operates collegiately, but for different reasons, thus it enters singularly. Alumni include various BBC luminaries, including George Alagiah, Gabby Logan and Jeremy Vine, as well as cricketers Nasser Hussain and Andrew Strauss and Mo Salah lookalike (his words not mine!) Nish Kumar. It has regularly sent teams to UC in the BBC era, winning in 1999-2000. This year's quartet were:
Sian Round, from the Wirral, studying English
Cameron Yule, from London, studying English
Captain: Matthew Toynbee, from Derbyshire, studying Maths
Ben Murray, from Cheshire, studying Chemistry

Off we set again then, and Mr Murray opened the night's scoring for Durham; two bonuses on the work of Daniel (totally not related to Jermain) Defoe gave them two correct answers, and an unlucky near miss on the other. A repeat performance from the Durham right winger was followed by a full house on cricketers, which Mr Yule answered all by himself! He then added a starter to the tally as well, and another two bonuses went with it. After a slip-up set them back, Strathclyde now opened their score thanks to Mr Pollock, and they too took two bonuses. The first picture round, on diagrams of Men's World Cup winning teams' routes to victory, went to Strathclyde, who picked up where Mr Logan and his knowledge of Euro 16 left off last series, with a full house, taking the scores to 65-40.

Already a high scoring show, and it carried on, as Ms Round handed Durham back possession, and two bonuses on modern feminism followed. Mr Toynbee then offered 'arsenic', making sure all four Durham players already had at least one starter answered, and another two bonuses took them, already, into three figures. Mr Murray then added another with 'either and dither', before taking his turn to answer an entire bonus set, on deaths in the Lord of the Rings, all by himself! He then took another starter to boot, and the side answered the same two bonuses correctly as I did. Already, they were looking imperious, and despite Strathclyde's equally good bonus rate, they were up against it.

The music round, on satire in opera, went to Durham, who added another two bonuses, taking their lead to 170-40. And it was only getting larger as Mr Toynbee, quick as a flash, offered 'quartz and quasar', and all three bonuses were taken as well. Mr Yule was next with 'Lady Chatterly's Lover', but finally Durham showed some weakness as they only took one bonus. Strathclyde finally buzzed back in, but only managed to drop back five; Durham couldn't pick up, and neither side took the next starter either. Back to normal service for Durham, as Mr Yule did the honours, and yet another full house, on biographies of Baroness M. Thatcher, took their lead to 200 points.

The second picture round, on works exhibited at the opening of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, went to Durham, who took yet another full house, and now led 260-35. And they were showing no signs of letting up, as Mr Murray took '1930s', and another two bonuses went with it. Finally, Strathclyde got some more points on the board, Mr Hogg doing the honours, and two bonuses on scientific terms ensured they wouldn't be joining the Sub 50 club.

But Durham weren't finished yet, Mr Toynbee offering 'bat' for the next starter, and an umpteenth full bonus set, on fish named after other animals, went with it, taking them past 300. And after another Durham starter, another full house, and they were officially the highest scoring UC team since I started this blog, eclipsing our friend Richard Evans' Southampton side five years ago. And they weren't finished yet, another starter and pair of bonuses putting them one starter away from the first 300+ victory in ages. Mr Yule's offer of 'stamps' gave it to them, but there was no time for bonuses; at the gong, Durham won 360-55.

A truly spectacular one sided match that has broken all sorts of records for this decade; see my Twitter feed for details. Unlucky Strathclyde, just simply outplayed, but the fact that they are on the show at all shows they must be a decent team, and their performance when they did get in backs this up; thanks to them for playing and taking it so well. Very very very very well done to Durham though, and very best of luck in the next round! I for one am looking forward to it.

The stats: Messrs Yule and Murray were joint best buzzers of the night with six each, while Messrs Hogg, Callan and Pollock all answered one each for Strathclyde. On the bonuses, Strathclyde converted a very good 7 out of 9 (with two forgivable penalties), while Durham managed a mind blowing 38 out of 48! I'll just let that speak for itself!

Next week's match: York vs St Edmund Hall Oxford

Monday, 20 August 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 1: Match 5: Clare vs Hertford

Evening all. Well, I think we can safely say summer is over; for the first time this series, I am watching this with all the windows shut in my flat; was a bit drafty. Now watch it suddenly heat up again now I've said that! Anyway, on with tonight, and the second Oxbridge match of this still young series, with the usual caveats, win and go straight through, lose and hope your score is among the four highest.

Clare College is the second oldest in Cambridge, founded in 1326 by Lady Elizabeth de Clare; alumni include poet Siegfried Sassoon, writer Peter Ackroyd and British legend Sir David Attenborough. It last sent a team to UC three series ago, who were unfortunate to lose in the first round; three quarters of that team later appeared on OC as the Clareites. This year's foursome were:
Anish Naik, from Enfield in London, studying Astrophysics
Matt Nixon, from Belfast, studying Astrophysics
Captain: Andrew Gurr, from Basingstoke, studying Law
Elijah Granet, from San Diego, California, studying Politics

Hertford College Oxford is even older, founded 1282 but taking its current name in 1874; alumni include John Donne, Jonathan Swift and Evelyn Waugh, and more recently Fiona Bruce and Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Making only its second BBC appearance tonight, the first back in 2010-11 resulting in a first round defeat. This year's quartet were:
Stefi Woodgate, from South London, studying Biology
Pat Taylor, from Warwick, studying Physics
Captain: Richard Tudor, from Stourbridge, studying History
Chris Page, from Orpington in London, studying English Literature

Off we set again then, and Mr Granet picked up when his compatriate Mr Golfinos left off last week, taking the first starter, and two bonuses on words ending 'ist' went with it. Mr Tudor promptly opened Hertford's account in short order, but his side could only manage one bonus on Nobel Prize citations. A penalty then dropped the sides level; the next saw both teams sit on the buzzers until they heard 'Thomas Becket', at which point Mr Tudor won the race to say 'Henry II'. Just the one bonus followed again, though. The first picture round, on old English kennings, went to Hertford, who took two bonuses this time, taking their lead to 50-15.

Another penalty then increased the lead, before Mr Taylor just about provided a close enough answer to be accepted; bonuses on Xmas UC alumnus Samira Ahmed's critique of various 90s culture saw didn't add to their score though. A prompt buzz from Mr Nixon brought Clare back into the game, but no bonuses followed, including Mr Gurr's unlucky plumping for of the wrong Lord of the Rings volume! A second starter in a row went to the Cambridge side, and they took one bonus, just missing out on another. Mr Granet added a third in a row for Clare with 'McDonaldisation', and another single bonus took them back to within ten.

The music starter saw Mr Gurr win the buzzer race to identify Reginald Dwight's 'Rocket Man'; the bonuses, on songs listened to by Tim Peake in space, saw the Cambridge side incur the wrath of Twitter for mistaking The Who for The Beach Boys; one of the other bonuses followed, giving them a narrow lead of 65-60. Mr Tudor decided that was enough of that, identifying Paul Erdos (who Stephen Fry may or may not have stolen a QI anecdote from) to give his side the lead again, and the first full bonus set of the game accompanied. A second starter in a row went Hertford's way, as did a second full bonus set, a nice one on cryptic clues to the names of bands (eg, the horizontal bands on the flag of North Korea = White Stripes!). Mr Granet promptly seized back possession with a very prompt buzz indeed, and two bonuses were taken with it. Another penalty set them back again, followed by controversy, as Paxo allowed Mr Nixon off with a slight hesitation before answering; to be fair, he did answer just before Paxo began to rule him out, unlike other occasions I've seen this happen. One bonus followed.

The second picture round, on paintings by Manet inspired by works by Spanish artists, went to Hertford, who took another full set, giving them a lead of 135-95. Still anyone's game going into the final mins; neither side took the next starter, Mr Granet took the next, and his side into triple figures, and one bonus put them just a starter and full set away going into the home stretch.

But Mr Page took the next starter, and, though just one bonus on oxymorons followed, time was now on their side. One more starter would win it, but Mr Gurr wasn't giving in, offering 'deer' to keep his side in the game; his side took two much needed bonuses. Neither side took the next starter, amusingly offering '1' and '0' when '1/2' was the answer! Mr Gurr pulled his side within ten with 'Grand Canal', and two bonuses put the sides level for, what would surely be, the last starter of the game. Mr Granet came in early with 'Robinson', and was right! And that was the gong! Clare won, 160-150!

A rather slow match that suddenly leapt into life in the final minutes. Unlucky Hertford, unlucky to just be pipped at the post, but hopefully 150 will be good enough for the play-offs; thanks in the mean time though. Very well done Clare though, and very best of luck in the next round!

The stats: Mr Granet was the best buzzer of the night with five starters, while Mr Page was Hertford's best with four. On the bonuses, Clare converted 13 out of 30 (with three penalties), while Hertford managed 14 out of 24, so it was a game won on the buzzer.

Next week's match: Strathclyde vs Durham. Shame that wasn't this week's match, otherwise it would've been exactly six years to the day since the exact same fixture was played!

Monday, 13 August 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 1: Match 4: SOAS vs Darwin

Evening all. We're back after our week off, a week off I was planning to use to go away for a few days, but unfortunately my plans fell through, leaving me stuck here with very little to do, but anticipate tonight's game! Two colleges, one experienced, one rookie, both catering for mature students, one would definitely proceed to the second round, the runners-up might yet too!

The London School of Oriental and African Studies, or SOAS, was founded in 1916; noted alumni include politicians Enoch Powell, Aung San Suu Kyi and David Lammy and comedian Dom Joly, who appeared for the college on Christmas UC IIRC. It has occasionally sent teams to UC, last appearing two series ago and reaching the semis in 2013-14. This year's foursome were:
Mark Thomas, from Newcastle, studying Global Cinema
Chad Beaman, from London, studying Japanese
Captain: Harriet Gemmill, from London, studying Sinology
Tom Pollitt, from Bristol, studying International Law

Darwin College Cambridge is one of Cambridge's newer colleges, founded in 1964, and is strictly postgrads only. Alumni include primatologist Dian Fossey and cloner Sir Ian Wilmut. This is, as far as we know, the college's first ever UC appearance, but we don't have full stats for the ITV era. Tonight's team were:
Stuart MacPherson, from Bothwell in South Lanarkshire, studying Physics
Christopher Davis, from London (via California), studying Plant Science
Captain: Jason Golfinos, from New York City, studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Guy Mulley, from Loughton in Essex, studying Law

Off we set again then, and Mr Golfinos opened the scoring for the night with 'Jade'; bonuses on the year 1997, a year I know quite a bit about, gave them one correct answer, and a nice swipe at Mel C from the Paxomeister! Neither team knew Sofia Coppola for the next starter (I did, having heard the same question on UC before), Mr Thomas took SOAS off the mark by identifying the first two seats won by the SDP; two bonuses on Greek myth gave the Londoners a five point lead. Darwin retook it when Mr Golfinos took the next starter, and the side took two of the resultant bonuses. The first picture round, on Latin maxims and their general senses, went to Darwin, who took another two correct, giving them a lead of 55-20.

Mr Beaman then lost five on the next starter, and Mr Golfinos didn't wait for any more to come before picking up the correct answer; another two correct bonuses were converted. The Darwin captain wasn't letting up as he took yet another starter, and his side swept the board on the bonuses, on computer games. His side were already at their century, and when SOAS dropped another five and that man Mr Golfinos picked up again, their lead was into three figures too. All three bonuses were followed by yet another starter to Darwin's irrepressible captain, and another two bonuses, and already you'd think they were home and dry.

The music starter was yet another Mr Golfinos added to his haul; the bonuses, on big band leaders from the swing era, gave the Cambridge side two points, and took their lead to 165-10. Paxo felt the need to let SOAS know there was still time left, and Mr Pollitt tried his luck on the next starter, but couldn't convert; nor could Darwin. Yet another superb early buzz from the Darwin captain unlocked bonuses on director Julie Taymor, of which two followed. Then, for once, Mr Golfinos came in too early, allowing SOAS to finally break back into the game; two bonuses followed, of which I took one as well. It proved but a blip though, as the Darwin captain was back on the money with the next starter; bonuses on the work of comedy writer Chris Morris, including the classic 'cake' from Brass Eye, gave them another two answers. Mr Beaman then did the right thing and took an early flyer, but it fell wide, dropping five; Mr MacPherson did the honours for Darwin this time, and the side smashed through the 200 barrier with another full house.

The second picture round, on stills from hand drawn animated films, went to SOAS, who took two bonuses, which took the scores to 220-45. A second starter in a row to the London side ensured they wouldn't be joining the Sub-50 club, and a full set of bonuses put them within sight of three figure respectability. But another slip-up set them back five, and allowed that man Golfinos to take the pick-up; bonuses on British birds gave them two correct answers.

Now, it was just a question of how much either side could score. Darwin's brilliant captain added yet another starter to his mightily impressive tally, but his side dropped all three bonuses on Dickens (I knew one of them thanks to WWTBAM). Mr Beaman took another starter for SOAS, and bonuses on astronomy gave them just the one correct answer. Another interruption, however, then dropped them back further, and gave Darwin the points and bonuses on cricket trophies, of which one was taken. They couldn't quite manage a 200+ win however, the final starter of the game going to SOAS, who took the one bonus there was time for. At the gong, Darwin won 260-90.

Another rather one sided game, but it still made for compelling viewing nonetheless. Unlucky SOAS, a perfectly decent team who would almost certainly have won another fixture, and who took the defeat in good grace; thanks very much to them. Very well done to Darwin though, Mr Golfinos especially, and very best of luck in the second round!

The stats: Mr Golfinos ended the match with THIRTEEN(!) (that's ONE THREE) starters to his name, which, unless I'm mistaken (which I could well be), is the highest individual tally in a single match since the legendary Alex Guttenplan scored the same in the 2009-10 final! Mr Beaman was best for SOAS with three. On the bonuses, SOAS converted a respectable 11 out of 17 (with five penalties), while Darwin managed an excellent 26 out of 42 (with two penalties); definitely one to watch in the next round!

Next week's match: Clare College Cambridge vs Hertford College Oxford