Wednesday, 30 January 2013

University Challenge: Second Round Review / Quarter-Final Preview

So, after 24 matches, some low scoring, and a handful of truly great games, we've finally reached the quarter-finals, and are down to just eight teams:
  • Pembroke College Cambridge (455 over two matches)
  • New College Oxford (445 over two matches)
  • King's College Cambridge (535 over three matches)
  • St George's College London (405 over two matches)
  • Manchester University (400 over two matches)
  • Imperial College London (470 over two matches)
  • University College London (475 over two matches)
  • Bangor University (300 over two matches)
So, three London colleges, two Cambridge, one Oxford and two neutral. Two LAM and OW readers, Adam Pearce (Bangor) and James Gratrex (King's), make up these teams.

So, what do these raw figures say about the team's chances?

Well, U.C.L. have the highest score of the seven two matchers, but Imperial are only five behind them. However, as James [Gratrex] has pointed out, Imperial may not have been tested against strong teams yet, as both their opponents have been, with all due respect, a little on the mediocre side. (Lest we forget, two years ago, Bristol gave a great second round performance against a mediocre team, causing some to overestimate them).

U.C.L. have earned their points against better teams, as have Manchester and St George's. St George's are perhaps the most underrated team left, IMO. They have twice scored strongly against good teams (one of them King's, who are also in the quarters). They could be dark horses for the quarters.

Pembroke have defeated one good, and one mediocre team to get this far.

New College, on the other hand, have defeated two very good teams on their route here, scoring over 200 on both occasions. That gives them a definite boost in these terms.

Bangor's score may seem a little out compared to the others, but, lest we forget, they defeated the much-fancied Durham, who had been tipped as possible champions after their first match, in the second round.

And King's, well, they have lost one match, but their two victories since have both been over strong teams, which is a sign of a good team.

So, if you want me to choose which teams will reach the semis eventually, I would probably say New College, for reasons stated above, and maybe U.C.L., although not as confidently. As for the others, I have no idea. It's been a tightly fought series, with the teams quite closely grouped together in terms of overall scores.

The quarter-finals begin on Monday with Manchester vs Imperial, followed by U.C.L. vs Bangor the week after.

I'll be back on Sunday with my weekly DoND summary; it's been quite a week so far!

Monday, 28 January 2013

University Challenge: Round 2: Match 8: Bangor vs Durham

Well, tonight's match, the final one of the second round, can be summed up in three words: what a shock! But a pleasant one at that.

Bangor only narrowly defeated St Andrews in the first round, with 125-105, in one of the handful of low scoring first round affairs. The underdogs tonight were unchanged from before:
Adam Pearce, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, studying Translation Studies
Mark Stevens, from Widnes in Cheshire, studying Environmental Science
Captain: Nina Grant, from Enfield in London, studying French and Linguistics
Simon Tomlinson, from Manchester, studying Neuropsychology

Durham, on the other hand, scored the second highest score of the first round, defeating Strathclyde by 245-70. They were also unchanged:
Philip Ferry, from Northumberland, studying Maths
Katie Vokes, from Edinburgh, studying Maths
Captain: Richard Thomas, from Hook in Hampshire, studying Politics
Dominic Everett Riley, from Farnham in Surrey, studying English

So, on paper, an easy victory for Durham. And normally Durham get my undivided support, due to my mother studying at Trevelyan College Durham. But not this time: one of the Bangor team has been kind enough to post on here and LAM under the name 'Welshguy', or, more recently, 'BoiCymraeg'. So, therefore, my impartiality was holding firm tonight.

The Welsh quickly shot out into a lead, with Simon Tomlinson, an impressive scorer in the first round, getting the first three starters, and only one bonus going astray. Paxo was forced to tell Durham it was time they got going, which they did, lowering the gap to 70-40 by the first picture round.

But Mr Tomlinson hit straight back, and the lead rose again. Bangor maintained the main momentum in the second phase, and the shock was on. Even when Mr Tomlinson interrupted to early, losing five, he immediately bounced back with the next starter. Durham took the music round, on cover versions of songs, with the first bonus being a cover of a song by the starter band, and so on. None of these bonuses were converted, and Bangor led by 115-70.

But Durham weren't beaten yet, and, in the next phase, they began to fight back. Bangor bettered their score from the first round with a starter on a Welsh song that, according to Paxo, if they'd got wrong, they'd not have been let back into Wales! But, amidst the laughter, the lead was shrinking, and, by the second picture round, on paintings that inspired poetry, Durham had cut the gap to just ten points, 130-120.

Into the final stretch of play, and Bangor's lead increased again. But two starters from Durham saw the lead vanish completely, and Durham led for the first time in the game, with not much time left. Cue Simon Tomlinson, who'd had a quiet phase, who took a crucial starter, and one bonus leveled the scores. With not much time left, Adam Pearce took a crucial starter, giving Bangor back the lead. And the gong went during the bonuses! The shock was complete; Bangor won a tense match, 175-165.

Very hard lines to Durham, who played brilliantly, and could easily have won on another day; Philip Ferry got three starters, his three colleagues all got two, and the side made 15 bonuses out of 27. But very well done to Welshguy and co for a deserved victory! Simon Tomlinson ended the match with six starters to his name, and the side converted 16 bonuses out of 28 with one penalty. That's how close this was. Well done indeed!

Next week's match: Manchester vs Imperial, in the first quarter final

And, if you missed any of tonight's match, and don't have iPlayer access, you can see it again on Saturday afternoon at 1pm.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Deal or No Deal - 21st-27th January

Well, apart from Monday, it's been another quiet week on the DoND front.

Monday 21st: Steph
Winnings: £13,500
Dealt at: 11-box
Highest offer: £21,000 (8-box)
Box value: 1p

Well, we very nearly made history here, with Steph very nearly dealing the very generous first offer of £16,500! After that, his actual deal was a bit weak by comparison, but he managed to avoid the nightmare ending, being left with 1p and 10p at the end! And he also became the second person to have the worst possible final three (1p, 10p and 50p).

Tuesday 22nd: Becky
Winnings: £8,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £21,000 (5-box)
Box value: £1,000

Not much to say here, except that the game featured a sub-plot of Noel trying to find a boyfriend for Becky, who was single. Why Noel makes a big deal out of such things, no-one knows. Some say it's time for the show to go back to 45 minutes, like in the old days. I'm not really bothered myself.

Wednesday 23rd: Irene
Winnings: £8,500
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £14,000 (5-box)
Box value:£10

Again, not much to say. Remarkably similar game to Becky's offer wise.

Thursday 24th: David
Winnings: £9,200
Dealt at: 11-box
Highest offer: £12,000 (8-box)
Box value: £750

Again, the player dealt one round short of the peak. Though David did it at 11-box.

Friday 25th: Louise
Winnings: £20,000
Dealt at: 11-box
Highest offer: £26,000 (5-box)
Box value: £3,000

Have we ever had three 11-box deals in under a week before? (Maybe once, in 2007, IIRC) Can't blame her for dealing on a board that, as Noel said, was probably a bit too strong for her. Noel said in his intro today that, contrary to what you may think, boards like lots of reds left are often harder to play than ones with lots of blues, as you're being offered a huge sum of money on a very tempting looking board.

Sunday 27th: Waraporn
Winnings: £1
Opened the box
Highest offer: £10,555 (14-box)
Box value: £1

And that, I'm afraid, is the end of the red run that had been going on since Boxing Day(!). At least an unavoidable trainwreck, and not as a result of a questionable gamble gone wrong (like, say, Tony from last month). Shame, as Waraporn was nice enough, and she took her crash perfectly in her stride.

So, apart from Steph's game, and maybe Louise's, a pretty uneventful week for the show. Quite a contrast to January last year, which saw five Power 5 wins. Will we get some good games to end January? I can only hope for the best, regardless of how big the win.

Monday, 21 January 2013

University Challenge: Round 2: Match 7: U.C.L. vs Jesus

Well, if Manchester's win over Magdalen was a trouncing that should've been a close match, this week's was a close match that should've been a trouncing, you might say.

U.C.L. ran up the highest score of the first round, as they thrashed Exeter 260-85, with captain Simon Dennis getting eleven correct starters, a series record that he still holds. He and his team were unchanged:
Adam Papaphilippopoulos, from London, studying Philosophy
Tom Tyszczuk Smith, from Cambridge, studying Medicine
Captain: Simon Dennis, from London, studying the History and Philosophy of Science
Tom Parton, from Staffordshire, studying Natural Sciences

In comparison, Jesus College Oxford narrowly defeated Queen Mary London in their first match, by a rather narrow 150-120. They thus were firm underdogs tonight, and were also unchanged:
Matt Hitchings, from London, studying Mathematical Modelling
Frankie Goodway, from London, studying English
Captain: Guy Brindley, from Worcestershire, studying Classics
Johnny Woodward, from Winchester, studying Engineering

So, on paper, U.C.L. looked, by far, the better team. And yet, it was the Oxonians who were quicker out of the traps. They comfortably dominated the first quarter, getting most of the starters. U.C.L. did get a couple of starters, including the first picture round, but no bonuses followed them.

U.C.L. then began to pick up the pace, with two correct starters in a row, and some bonuses with them. But then an incorrect interruption allowed Jesus back into the game, and the momentum shifted back in their favour. After the music round, on Radio 4's Saddest Music Poll, which went to U.C.L., it was anyone's game, with Jesus leading 85-75.

U.C.L. took the next starter, and, with it, the lead. Jesus hit straight back, and reclaimed it. U.C.L. hit back, and reclaimed it. Then they interrupted incorrectly again, but Jesus failed to pounce, allowing U.C.L. to take the lead again with the next starter. And then, the second picture round, on endangered species, which took U.C.L.'s lead to 150-105.

It was still all to play for. Jesus hit right back, and reduced the gap again. But U.C.L. then pulled away again. The nip and tuck continued, with Jesus getting the next starter, and then U.C.L. the next. Then, U.C.L. got a second in a row, and maybe that would be enough for victory.

Nope. Jesus weren't beaten yet. They got two starters in a row, bettering their first round score, and reduced the gap back to 20. Could they yet pull off a huge shock? Tom Parton thought otherwise. And that was it! U.C.L. won a very tense match 215-180.

Phew, that was great! Well, not as great as some matches I've seen, but still great. Jesus gave U.C.L. a much better fight than we might have expected, and it's a shame to see them leave; Matt Hitchings led the way with five starters, and the side answered 16 bonuses out of 30. After that record haul in the first round, Simon Dennis only managed three starters this time, which Tom Parton bettered with five; the Londoners managed 19 correct bonuses out of 39, with two penalties.

 Next week's match: Bangor vs Durham in the final second round match (good luck Welshguy!)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Deal or No Deal - 14th-20th January

Well, after last week's great results, things seemed a little bit more average this week.

Monday 14th: Mike
Winnings: £5,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £17,000 (14-box)
Box value: £15,000

An unfortunate game, and a very rare Player spanking, where the players deals their lowest offer, and undersells their box. Not a bad call by Mike, but just unlucky really that his game fell apart after the second offer.

Tuesday 15th: Jean
Winnings: £12,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £15,000 (5-box)
Box value: 10p

A good enough result from a reasonable decision, and I very much doubt Jean would be bothered about only missing out on £3,000.

Wednesday 16th: Leo
Winnings: £8,250
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £18,000 (5-box)
Box value: £20,000

Leo was an entertaining enough player, and his deal was sensible enough. Unlucky that the proveout didn't go his way, but he didn't seem that bothered.

Thursday 17th: Lynda
Winnings: £5,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £71,000 (2-box)
Box value: £1

Terribly unlucky really. Lynda lost most of the big money, but kept the £250,000, leaving it exposed. Her decision to back out at £5,000 was cautious, but understandable. Unlucky to keep the Jackpot all the way to 2-box, but at least it wasn't in her box. If it had been, it would have been the Banker's biggest victory of all time!

Friday 18th: Myyles
Winnings: £9,000
Dealt at: 5-box 
Highest offer: £34,000 (2-box)
Box value: £50,000

Another unlucky proveout. Myyles was initially offered £9,500 at 5-box, but was docked £500 after he remarked that the offer was the same as the 8-box one. £9,000 was still a sensible deal, and it was horrendously unlucky, having dealt, to have the 5% best possible proveout (10% best possible round, and 50% of having the higher sum).

Sunday 20th: Trev
Winnings: £9,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £9,000
Box value: £250

Nice to finish the week with a Banker spanking. Trev's game was pretty unlucky, and looked like a trainwreck, but he managed to pull off the perfect fifth round, which saw the offer shoot up to £9,000, which he took.

Overall, a middle-of-the-road week for the show; nothing memorable, but nothing horrific either. Has the good luck from the past few weeks run out now? We'll have to wait and see. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

University Challenge: Round 2: Match 6: Bristol vs Imperial

Well, if last week’s match was a trouncing that should’ve been a close match, this week’s match should’ve been a trouncing, but would we get one? Sort of, but not quite.

Still, it would be a hard task for Bristol, who won their first match against Wadham College Oxford with the lowest winning score of the BBC series, winning a low scoring match by 120-105. That was a long time ago now, that match. The team were unchanged from before:
James Xiao, from Hampshire, studying Chemistry
Andy Suttie, from Kelso in the Borders, studying the History and Philosophy of Science
Captain: Will Brady, from Hertford, studying Maths
Madeline Fforde, from Wiltshire, studying Classics and Ancient History

In comparison, Imperial had a very easy time in their first round match, racking up one of the highest scores of the first round when they trounced Jesus College Cambridge by 220-80. They were also unchanged from their first outing:
Pietro Aronica, from Brescia in Italy, studying Biochemistry
Dominic Cottrell, from London, studying Medicine
Captain: Martin Evans, from Oxfordshire, studying Pharmacology
Henry Guille, from Cranbrook in Kent, studying Material Science

So, on paper, Imperial were the favourites, by a long way.

However, the match did start off closely, with the first two starters being shared by the two sides. Then, Imperial began a sprint, which saw them pull away into a decent lead. However, they appeared to be struggling on the bonuses, which meant they didn’t pull away like they might have been expected to.

This gave Bristol the chance to get back into the match. Two starters in a row, coupled with an incorrect interruption from the opposition, saw them briefly reduce Imperial’s lead to 15 points. But Imperial then got their momentum back, and pulled away. After the music round, on actors performing songs from musicals, which Imperial swept the board on, they led by 115-55.

An interesting starter followed about how ‘Photoshop’ has apparently entered the OED as a generic term for altering an image via computer. This went to Bristol. But Imperial had the advantage, and proceeded to pull away even further. By the second picture round, they led by 185-90, and looked pretty safe for the time being.

Two more starters saw the lead reach three figures, and Imperial now looked home and dry. They were a bit unlucky to miss the points on one starter, but it wasn’t going to affect the outcome. Bristol did make it to three figures, which is no more than they deserved, but just fell short of equalling their score from the first round. At the gong, Imperial won by 245-115.

So, the expected win for Imperial, but Bristol didn’t do terribly; to reach three figures is perfectly respectable. Will Brady was the side’s best buzzer, with four starters, which led to 10 bonuses out of 21 with one penalty. Pietro Aronica and Martin Evans got five starters each for Imperial, and the side managed 23 bonuses out of 41, which is pretty impressive, with two penalties.

Next week’s match: U.C.L. vs Jesus College Oxford
Tonight’s Only Connect was a friendly between three of the Eggheads, and three members of series winning teams called David! The Davids won, but the Eggheads gave them a decent match. It was odd that Victoria Coren said at the start (probably as a joke) that she’s not keen on the name David, given that she’s engaged to someone with that name (a Mr Mitchell)!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Deal or No Deal - 7th-13th January

Well, after a couple of pretty tough periods for the show, the New Year seems to have woken the show up. As it’s been a great week for the show.

Monday 7th: Paulina
Winnings: £21,000
Dealt at: 11-box (for £20,000)
Highest offer: £20,000 (11-box and 5-box)
Box value: £3,000
Why the extra £1,000? Well, Paulina won it on the Christmas Day show after her box had the 1p. So, technically, she couldn’t win a blue due to already having £1,000! Thus the Banker took her very seriously, which resulted in some very generous offers. Her 11-box deal was very reasonable, and it worked, sort of.

Tuesday 8th: Gary
Winnings: £20,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £20,000 (5-box)
Box value: £500

If Paulina’s was mad enough, Gary’s was mad. The Banker hated Gary, which saw an opening offer of 1p! And a third offer of nothing(!), after Gary chatted to his relatives while the Banker was on the phone! However, the Banker and Gary soon made up, and the offers, from that point on were very generous indeed. Gary devised the £20,000 offer himself, and it was a most sensible decision to deal.

Wednesday 9th: Dan
Winnings: £9,022
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £16,022 (14-box)
Box value: £3,000

After the extraordinary two games prior, this was a bit more of a quiet affair. But Dan’s decision to deal at 5-box was a good call considering. It didn’t quite work out, with £35,000 being missed in the proveout, leading to a 2-box offer of £15,022. (Don’t know what the 22 was about)

Thursday 10th: Abi
Winnings: £15,000
Dealt at: 11-box
Highest offer: £51,000 (2-box)
Box value: £100,000

Oh dear. It looked like Abi’s somewhat cautious decision to deal at 11-box was going to be vindicated, until she hit the 10% best possible final round, leaving her with £20,000 and £100,000. Abi was left very emotional, which was a far cry from the very lively giggly persona she displayed early on.

Friday 11th: Steve
Winnings: £15,000
Dealt at: 2-box
Highest offer: £15,000 (2-box)
Box value: £20,000

Another extraordinary game! Steve had a horrific start to the game, with the entire Power 5 gone by 14-box(!), leading to an offer of £9.99! He subsequently resigned himself to going for it, and, when he hit the 10% perfect final round, leaving him with £10,000 and £20,000, it paid off! And, to be honest, I don’t think he’d care much about the extra £5,000 he could’ve got, especially considering he’d been offered the average!

Sunday 13th: Kate
Winnings: £24,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £38,000 (2-box)
Box value: £100,000

Kate’s no deal to £14,000 at 8-box was one of the bravest for a while. And it paid off nicely too. Shame about the £100,000 though; chalk up another ‘sensible deal unfairly punished in the proveout’.

But, overall, a great week for the show, with two Banker spankings, and a game that felt like one, even though it technically wasn’t. Let’s hope we can keep this good momentum up.

Monday, 7 January 2013

University Challenge: Round 2: Match 5: Magdalen vs Manchester

Ah, good to have the regular series back. It feels like ages, mainly because it has been. And, it feels a bit odd of me to say this after what I’ve said before, but it was good to see the old set back. We now know it will be gone next series, so good to see it while we can.

But anyway, onto tonight’s match, and a potentially juicy fixture.

Magdalen College Oxford won an entertaining first round match, beating a very good team from Sidney Sussex College Cambridge 205-125. The side remaining unchanged from before:
Will Wright, from Kew in London, studying History
Rob Mangan, from Nottingham, studying Chemistry
Captain: Henry Watson, from London, studying PPE
Richard Purkiss, from Richmond in London, studying Medieval History

Reigning champions Manchester looked dead and buried against Lincoln College Oxford, trailing throughout, but they fought back, and pulled off a seemingly improbable win, on the final question of the game, winning by 180-175. Hoping not to have to leave it so late tonight, and also unchanged, were:
David Brice, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying Economics
Adam Barr, from Muswell Hill in London, studying Physics with Astrophysics
Captain: Richard Gilbert, from Warwickshire, studying Linguistics
Debbie Brown, from Buxton, studying Pain Epidemiology

So, who were the favourites tonight? On paper, Magdalen won by a much bigger margin, and got a bigger score. But Manchester, despite not leading until the final quarter-second before the gong, won over a team who scored higher, and they scored 80 points in four minutes. So, overall, I couldn’t possibly call this one.

Things started very well indeed, with both sides getting a full set of bonuses, briefly tying the score at 25 all. From then on, though, Manchester constantly won the race to the buzzer, and began to pull away into a lead. Magdalen did take the first picture round, on family trees from Bronte novels, but the opposition had the buzzer momentum.

Manchester weren’t getting that many bonuses, but their buzzer work was more than making up for that. By the time the music starter was dropped, Manchester led by 105-35. Rob Mangan tried to buzz his side back into the match, but only resulted in setting them further back. The music bonuses, on recipients of a Mendelssohn scholarship, pushed the Mancunians further ahead. One of the bonuses I recognised as the theme to Radio 4’s ‘What the Papers Say’, but didn’t know the composer.

Magdalen did briefly get back into the match, with two starters in close succession, with mixed fortunes on the bonuses, fully getting one set, then dropping the next. Still, it was just enough to keep them within reasonable touching distance. After the second picture round, on actors portraying Van Helsing, Manchester led by 145-65.

There was time yet for Magdalen to make it back into the match. But, despite a couple of valiant starters from Messrs Purkiss and Watson, the Mancunians continued to take the starters, and pull away. It was soon clear that the champs were home and dry, but could Magdalen reach three figures. Alas not; at the gong, Manchester won by 220-90.

A good performance from Manchester, showing that their against-the-odds comeback in Round 1 wasn’t just pure luck. But Magdalen, as Paxo rightly said, did not deserve to lose by that big a margin at all. They were a decent team, and it’s a shame they’re leaving this early. Will Wright got three starters (his colleagues all got one), and they answered 7 bonuses out of 18 with one penalty. Messrs Barr and Gilbert and Ms Brown all got four starters each for Manchester, and the side managed 20 bonuses out of 36.

Next week’s match: Bristol vs Imperial

As for Only Connect, tonight was the latest Champion of Champions, with recent champions, the Scribes, narrowly triumphing over the previous series’ winners, the Analysts. I don’t know, but I think the Scribes could give the undefeated Crossworders a good fight.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Deal or No Deal - 31st December - 6th January

So, the final DoND of 2012 was a decent enough game, and the New Year got off to a great start as well. Here’s a quick summary of both.

Monday 31st: Bert
Winnings: £5,000
Dealt at: 2-box
Highest offer: £5,000 (8-box and 2-box)
Box value: £10,000

Not a very high tariff game, but 94 year old Bert was a great player, and he made it a great game to end the year. Even though he could’ve doubled his money, it didn’t seem particularly gutting. As I’ve said before, to undersell your box while taking the highest offer of the game is always a good result.

Tuesday 1st: Lloyd
Winnings: £19,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £31,000 (5-box)
Box value: £10,000

Unlike most years, a good result to start off the year. Lloyd’s deal arguable looked more cautious than it was, even though just one blue was left. It was actually quite a good offer, and nothing wrong with dealing at all. He was unlucky to miss the top three during the fifth round, but at least he didn’t have one in his box.

Wednesday 2nd: Joyce
Winnings: £22,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £30,000 (5-box)
Box value: £5,000

Another great game. Arguably, the 5-box hypothetical offer was inflated given that Joyce had lost two of the Power 5 in the fifth round, leaving the £250,000 exposed. Still, a good enough result.

Thursday 3rd: Luca
Winnings: £11,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £11,000 (8-box)
Box value: £10,000

Well, there was a great deal of banter in the early part of this game, which resulted in the first break being called after just one box being opened. When we got back to the game, Luca’s decision to deal at 8-box wasn’t a daft decision, and it was unquestionably vindicated. One of the smallest box profits of all time as well!

Friday 4th: Ryan
Winnings: £26,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £26,000 (8-box)
Box value: £3,000

Well, this game proved to be a great result, perhaps the best of the week. £26,000 was a very generous offer, and it was a most sensible deal. And, for the second day running, the player’s decision was thoroughly vindicated. A great game and result, though perhaps this game will be better remembered for the side story of a pilgrim getting thrown out for sneezing!

Sunday 6th: Lorraine
Winnings: £6,00
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £23,000 (2-box)
Box value: £5

Well, after the very good games over the working week, this seemed a little bit more low key. Having said that, Lorraine’s decision was a perfectly valid one, and it’s a shame that, having dealt, she missed the £75,000 on the wings, as it was the only remaining box that would send the offer up.

But, overall a good start to the year. Let’s hope this continues into next week.