Tuesday, 30 October 2012

University Challenge: First Round Review

So, we’ve reached the end of the University Challenge first round matches. And the fourteen teams safely into the second round are, in order of qualification:

York University (185)
St George’s College London (175)
Bristol University (120)
Durham University (245)
Jesus College Oxford (150)
Magdalen College Oxford (205)
Manchester University (180)
Imperial College London (220)
Bangor University (125)
Pembroke College Cambridge (200)
Bath University (125)
University College London (260)
New College Oxford (230)
Warwick University (175)

And the four highest scoring losing teams, who will be playing in the repechage, are:
Lincoln College Oxford (175)
King’s College Cambridge (145)
Homerton College Cambridge (145)
Lancaster University (140)

So, what can we see from these stats? Well, U.C.L. had the highest score of the round (and the biggest victory, beating Exeter by 175 points); Durham are close behind, and also won by a big margin. New College and Imperial also stand out on this board. These four appear to be the initial favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, provided they don’t get drawn against each other.

In terms of representation, Oxford have three teams safely through, and a fourth in the repechage. Cambridge only have one team through, but, with two teams set to meet each other in the repechage, are guaranteed a second. London also has three teams through. The rest of the teams are mostly from throughout England, with one from Wales.

Best match of the first round, by a long way, has to be Manchester’s seemingly impossible comeback victory over Lincoln. St George’s vs King’s comes second.

Apart from these two matches, most of the rest of the first round matches were steady, but not spectacular. The lower scoring matches were made watchable by Paxo’s various reactions.

So, as usual, we can only hope that the pace will be picked up a bit in the knockout stages. Whatever, happens, it should make for interesting viewing, especially given the rather narrow range of winning scores in the first round.

Monday, 29 October 2012

University Challenge: Round 1: Match 14: Warwick vs Aberdeen

So, we’ve finally reached the final first round match in this year’s contest. Would we be able to end the first round with a good match?

Warwick University was founded in 1965, and is one of the most regular entrants on University Challenge. Their team won the series in 2006-07; last year’s team fell to eventual semi-finalists U.C.L. in the second round. Playing for them tonight were:
Sean Quinn, from Derry in Ireland, studying Classical Civilisation
Sarah-Jane Bodell, from Western Kentucky, studying the History of Medicine
Captain: Andrew Shaw, from Ipswich, studying Maths
James Wheatley, from Sudbury in Suffolk, studying Chemistry

Now, when I saw Mr Wheatley there, I immediately had Warwick down as the favourites. For, back in March, Mr Wheatley played for the University of Warwick students on the Radio 4 quiz show The Third Degree (Sumukh Kaul, from last year’s Warwick team, was also on the team); they became the first (and thus far only) student team to triumph over the Dons team on the show. And by quite a big margin too.

So, despite Aberdeen being my local university, I had them down as underdogs tonight. The university was founded in 1495, making it the third oldest in Scotland. The university last appeared on the show in 2000-01, where they lost to York in the first round. Playing for them were:
Thomas Ainge, from Wellingborough, studying Anatomy
Sean McMahon, from Cambridgeshire, studying Astrobiology
Captain: James King, from Chicago, studying Divinity
Ross Collier, from Sunderland, studying Politics and International Relations

So, the heart said Aberdeen, but the head said Warwick. The head won out to begin with, as Mr Shaw of Warwick got the first two starters. Aberdeen got off the mark with the first picture round, a superb round on film scene recreated using lego, which they swept the board on! Another starter for the Aberdonians followed, but only one bonus went with it this time.

The teams swapped starters up to the music round, with Aberdeen keeping Warwick’s lead slender. Warwick then began a short surge, which saw them get into three figures. Though Aberdeen got another starter, Warwick had now opened up a decent lead by the time we reached the second picture round. And when Aberdeen incurred a penalty on the next starter, it looked like game over.

Warwick managed to get up to 145, enough for a repechage place at least. Aberdeen were stuck on 60, and the match was as good as over. Aberdeen didn’t stand much chance of reaching the repechage, but could they at least reach three figures. Yes, they could. Two more starters saw them just reach three figures in time for the gong. Warwick emerged triumphant 175-100.

Hard luck Aberdeen, but, as Paxo said, you did reach 100, which is perfectly respectable. James King got three starters correct (the other three all got one), and the side answered 9 bonuses out of 18 with one penalty. Well done to Warwick, who gave a respectable account of themselves. Andrew Shaw’s six starters was the side’s best tally ahead of James Wheatley’s five; the side answered just 13 bonuses out of 33, though, and that may need to be worked on for next time.

Next week: Lincoln College Oxford vs Lancaster in the first play-off
Week after: King’s College Cambridge vs Homerton College Cambridge in the second play-off

Tonight’s Only Connect was a good one, with some of my all-time favourite questions, including weapons in Mario Kart, Fawlty Towers episodes, and Pokemon. Just one point separated the two teams, which is a sign of how close a match it was.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Deal or No Deal - 22nd-28th October

So, the last week of DoND before the summer recording break. And the last week of DoND to be shown in regular definition (the show moves to HD tomorrow). And what a week it’s been.

Monday 22nd: Caerwyn
Winnings: £23,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £23,000 (5-box and 2-box)
Box value: £15,000

A spectacular game. As a Welshman, Caerwyn had the Banker’s undivided attention, due to Welsh players generally doing well. It looked the game might be slipping away when Caerwyn hit the £250,000 in Round 4, while leaving the 1p, 10p and 50p in play. But then, after turning down £6,500 at 8-box, he did a speed round, and hit the bottom three in order! This amazing feat got him £23,000, which he dealt for a spectacular Banker spanking. If you thought that was good…

Tuesday 23rd: Lamin
Winnings: £19,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £22,000 (8-box)
Box value: £3,000

After a shocking start of four reds, including the £250,000 and £75,000, Lamin finished the first round with 1p, then had two all-blue rounds. An against all odds third all-blue round took him into the Hall of Fame for the longest run of blues (10), breaking Keran Jackson’s record of 9 from November 2008. After turning down £22,000, the game crashed a bit, but Lamin still got a decent fifth offer of £19,000, which he dealt. A historic game, with a good result for the player, even if the deal was a little bit late.

Wednesday 24th: Jean
Winnings: £5
Opened the box
Highest offer: £11,000 (14-box)
Box value: £5

After two spectacular games, we had a pretty unavoidable trainwreck. Bit ironic that the game crashed after the second offer, which Jean seemed quite taken by, and turned down quicker than perhaps she should’ve. A lot of people weren’t happy with this one, as a lot of the show was taken up by Jean telling a rather long anecdote about caravans, which the show openly mocked by showing the backstage crew appearing to have fallen asleep!

Thursday 25th: Sheri
Winnings: £24,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £24,000 (8-box)
Box value: 10p

Now that’s how you play the game. Sheri’s deal was definitely the right thing for her to do in her circumstances (others may have taken their chances with £50,000, £75,000 and the £250,000 higher), and it turned out to be a perfect deal, and a massive Banker spanking. Can’t ask for better than that.

After the show, a short video tribute to ex-contestant Laura Williams, who has sadly passed away, was played. Once again, may I offer my condolences to her family and friends.

Friday 26th: Dean
Winnings: £7,000
Dealt at: 8-box (for £6,500)
Highest offer: £23,000 (5-box)
Box value: £15,000

This was an unfortunate affair. The £250,000 went at the worst time possible (final box of Round 4), leaving Dean with a weaker board. The Banker offered him £6,500, and later added a Brian Ferry CD to the offer, in reference to Dean’s wish to take his children on a ferry with his winnings. Cruel that, after Dean dealt, he should have an against-all-odds all-blue round, which led to a huge proveout offer of £23,000. The blow was softened a bit when the Banker, unable to get hold of a Brian Ferry CD, gave Dean an extra £500 instead (partly on Noel’s insistence!).

Sunday 28th: Sammy
Winnings: £11,000
Dealt at: 4-box extra offer
Highest offer: £22,222 (2-box)
Box value: £100,000

Sammy’s game quickly became precarious, and she reached 5-box with £100,000 and not much else, including the 1p. The Banker offered her a decent £6,500, and then told her she could open one box, and, if it wasn’t the £100,000, she would get another offer. Sammy took him up on this, and, after finding a blue (though not the 1p), she was offered £11,000. Very cruel that, after sensibly taking the money, she should have the £100,000 in her box.

So, after the amazing heights of the first two games, the show wasn’t really as good for the rest of the week, apart from Sheri’s game, and Sammy’s was dramatic even if ultimately disappointing.

Next week, the show celebrates Halloween with the traditional week of Halloween specials; this year, the players all dress as mummies for ‘Show Me The Mummy’. As usual, we can expect various twists at 5-box, which I will (try to) explain at some point in next week’s review.

Monday, 22 October 2012

University Challenge: Round 1: Match 13: New College vs Homerton

Before I review tonight’s match, my condolences go to the family of ex-DoND contestant Laura Williams, who has sadly passed away, after a long battle with cancer. Laura won on the show in £24,000 in July 2010. Her death was reported by regular audience member John on the forum earlier this evening. Very sad news indeed; I can only, once again, add my sympathies to those that have already been expressed.

On to UC then. New College Oxford is one of the oldest colleges in the universities, and was named as such to distinguish it from Oriel College, which had a similar full name. Alumni include Tony Benn and Hugh Grant. The college were runners-up in the first Paxman hosted series in 1994-95; their last appearance before tonight was a first round defeat to U.C.L. in 2000-01. Playing for them tonight were:
Remi Beecroft, from Letchworth in Hertfordshire, studying Psychology and Philosophy
India Lenon, from London, studying Classics
Captain: Andy Hood, from Wasperton in Warwickshire, studying PPE
Tom Cappleman, from Bracknell, studying Maths

Homerton College Cambridge became a full college of the university in 2010, but has been around in various other forms since the 1700s, where it was originally based in London. It moved to Cambridge in 1894. Alumni include Nick Hancock, Jan Ravens and Tamzin Merchant. The college reached the quarter-finals last year, and were unfortunate to become the first team to lose three matches in a series, which is a bit unfair. This year’s team were:
Jack Hooper, from Althrincham in Cheshire, studying Natural Sciences
Michael Angland, from Cork, studying Arabic and Spanish
Captain: Luke Fitzgerald, from Hadley in Suffolk, studying History
Drew Miley, from Durham, studying Maths

New College began the match stronger, getting the first three starters. Homerton soon got going too, and scored a full set on their first bonuses. The first picture round was on knots, and when no-one identified a reef knot, Paxo remarked ‘none of you were in the boy scouts obviously!’

Though Homerton came close to catching them a couple of times, New College managed to maintain a slender lead throughout the second phase. After the music round, they led 115-85. Homerton reduced the gap again, but New College then pulled away again, and began to pull away, with Mr Cappleman displaying particularly good buzzer ability.

After the second picture round, New College led 170-105, and, when Homerton buzzed too early on the next starter, they looked home and dry. The best Homerton could hope for now was to get enough points to get into contention for the repechage. A couple more starters, and a few of the resulting bonuses gave them the points they needed. At the gong, New College won by 230-145.

Not a terribly exciting affair, but both sides gave a good account of themselves. New College could do well this year with a favourable draw; Tom Cappleman finished with a very respectable eight starters, and the side managed 19 bonuses out of 39. Homerton will be back in the repechage; Michael Angland and Luke Fitzgerald got three starters each, which helped the side to 14 bonuses out of 24. Both sides incurred one penalty.

Safely through to the repechage: Lincoln College Oxford (175); Homerton College Cambridge, King’s College Cambridge (145)

Next week’s match: Warwick vs Aberdeen in the final first round match. Good to see my local uni back on the show after just over ten years; but it does mean that Edinburgh will not be competing for the first time since 1998-99!

Only Connect arrived at the quarter-finals tonight, so the already hard level of questions went up by one, and Victoria Coren got a bit stricter with her leeway. The connecting walls were rather hard as well.